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Cooperative and Competitive Conversations Don't Mix Well
Cooperative conversations are quite different from competitive ones. Many people - men probably more than women - don't get this distinction.
In a cooperative conversation partners set out to accomplish something together - explore a topic together, solve a problem together, plan something together. “Together” is the focal word here. In addition to achieving something, the intent in a cooperative conversation is to experience being together.
A cooperative conversation is a “we” experience.
A competitive conversation is an “I” experience - more exactly an “I vs you” experience, in which the aim is to win, to prove oneself smarter, faster, more logical or possessed of a better memory than the other person.
In our society, male conversation tends to be more competitive and female conversation more cooperative. Unhappiness is when he and she set out to talk together and succeed only in frustrating each other. She wants the back and forth pleasure of being together and he sees it as a who-is-right conversation.
In our competitive world, there are lots more “I” conversations than “we” ones. So here are a couple of suggestions for developing “we talk:”
* Rule: You can't present your opinion unless you have asked your partner at least two searching questions about what s/he has just said.
* Rule: Each subsequent statement after the first one must begin with “yes and…,” thus insuring that every statement builds upon the one that came before it.