Stage 1: Activation 

  • Something happens that hits a sore spot, judgment, or belief
  • Highlights feelings associated with unmet needs
  • Signs to look out for to know if this is happening to you: chest feeling tight, face feeling hot, clenching somewhere in the body, feeling “hit” somehow, either in the moment or later on as you reflect 
  • Whatever happened may seem “minor” but the impact of not addressing it could be major. It builds over time just like technical debt, so it’s important to keep things clean and clear. 

Stage 2: Applying my personal filter 

  • I tell myself a story about the other person and, most importantly, about myself 
  • My filter has a lot to do with my past experiences and personal patterns
  • Examples: Story about the other person: “X never thinks about anyone but themselves," while a story about myself: “I’m not important” or “I’m not seen” or “My voice doesn’t matter”
  • The story becomes “fact” 

Stage 3: Reaction

  • I act on this story, which, to me, is reality 
  • I “harden” around the reaction I’m having – this could look like: Accusing the other party, emotions running high (feeling “out of control”), trying to get the other party to change, using blunt, direct language either intended to hurt or simply as a means to make the other person change their behavior
  • I avoid the person or the issue at hand, which could look like: not talking to the person I’m in conflict with; not making eye contact with this person; avoiding any social situations or personal connection with this individual; pretending that everything is great and being overly cheerful with the person in question; steering clear of the topic with this person because the more I bring it up, the more conflict I have
  • Tension becomes palpable in this stage  

Instead of advancing to Stage 3, acknowledge and address the tension using Clean CommunicationTM