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Today I want to talk to you about 2 words that could possibly change the way you approach your next argument, disagreement or uncomfortable conversation. The 2 words I want you to think about are CONTENT and CONTEXT.  

How often have you been drawn into an argument with someone and become marooned in the detail of explaining the who, what, where, when, how and why? You get stuck defending and re-explaining your point of view. Oftentimes defending and reliving the details of a situation is the common direction an argument will take and each party only becomes more and more frustrated. We all have to deal with difficult or delicate conversations and it is so common for us to get caught up in our retelling of the story according to our own perspective, wants and needs.

Think about this!! There are 2 levels to EVERY single conversation. CONTENT or CONTEXT. When we get stuck in our perception or we get stuck telling a story, we are taking the path of communicating about CONTENT. Sharing the who, what, where, when, how and why of a story or a situation is a very common means of expression. However, the story is only one level of the conversation.

Focusing on expressing all the CONTENT of a situation will lead you into getting bogged down in recounting the details. It keeps you in the conflict and doesn’t bring you out onto the path of finding a solution. You share your CONTENT and then the person you are arguing with shares their CONTENT and then you share more of your CONTENT and then they try to correct your CONTENT and then re-share some of their CONTENT. This cycle can go on and on and get you nowhere. 

Many people have been taught to argue at the level of CONTENT. This just keeps you stuck in an emotional tug-of-war, trying to prove who is right and who is wrong. First allow yourself to focus on talking about the CONTEXT. The context is your intention. What do you want to think or feel? What do you want to create. Set this conversation up to be a win win for everyone. 

My sister Beverley and I shared a conversation about an incident with her three-year old son last week. He got pushed and his reaction was to grab a hockey stick and retaliate by hitting back. Immediately my sister went over to him and told him he couldn’t do that. His reply was, ‘Yes, I can. I just did.’ The conversation continued down this endless path of ‘he did this,’ and ‘you did that,’ because they were both too busy trying to prove their CONTENT right.

There is a powerful and empowering second level of conversation where arguments are resolved and energy can move forward. When we clarify our CONTEXT first and use our CONTEXT as our starting block we can shift the direction of any conversation. When we are clear about what experience we want to create, what kind of relationship we are striving for, and what we want to think or feel, we speak from a place of CONTENT and subsequently move to a place of resolution. Solution resides in being brave enough to dive into creating CONTEXT and speaking at that level first! Our words are not only powerful, they are our power and they set our intentions, putting them into motion. Only once you clarify the CONTEXT, is it possible to drop in and start handling the CONTENT of the conversation.

We deserve to feel good. I deserve to feel good. My body is important. Your body is important. When I stop trying to make my version of the events the loudest, and focus on the CONTEXT I desire to create, I can draw the other person out of the details and into finding a solution! Arguing about CONTENT will just create more frustration. Arguing for CONTEXT will lead you to feeling empowered and connected.

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Susan doing a Group to TEAM keynote for over 200 student workers at Cal State San Bernardino last month. 

Susan doing a Group to TEAM keynote for over 200 student workers at Cal State San Bernardino last month. 

Susan Leahy MA CSP is a powerful leadership, team building and keynote speaker, trainer, and coach.
Susan does live presentations, interactive online webinars, and private personal coaching.

She is the creator of The Confident Woman Program, Robert's Rules Made Simple and is the co-founder of Group To TEAM Leadership Solutions a global coaching and consulting organization that provides leadership and TEAM building training that builds a culture of TEAM by empowering the individual to choose TEAM.

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