QUOTES & WISDOM
TOP OF THE MIND
QUOTES & WISDOMfrom the Top of the Mind
QUOTES & WISDOM
Top of the Mind
Nancy Perovic, RN, BSN
University Of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, IL
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How to Avoid Arguments
I’ve always loved this quote from Eckhart Tolle because of how much wisdom it packs into just a few words. So, let’s unpack it to see how it might serve those of us who want to create a more purposeful experience of life.
First, I think it’s fair to say that most of us find arguments less than productive. Generally they consist of two or more people trying to convince someone that they are right while the other is wrong, which almost always results in hurt feelings and/or everyone becoming more entrenched in their respective positions. Not good.
So, what’s the answer? Just avoid arguments altogether and hope the issue will resolve itself? No! Rarely does avoidance solve the problem. In fact, what often happens is that the issue festers under the surface, only to resurface later in a more destructive manner.
Instead, I suggest we look at Mr. Tolle’s wisdom to see if there is a way to deal with issues without the discussion disintegrating into an argument. The key lies in the words “fully conscious.”
For those of you who follow my “Life from the Top of the Mind” philosophy, this means coming from the fully-conscious part of the brain, or the neocortex, because it is from this clear, confident, creative and curious part of the brain (which I call the “Top of the Mind”) that we can wade into the waters of disagreement without drowning or pulling others under with us.
For example, let’s assume that we find ourselves in a discussion where our perspective on the situation differs dramatically from that of the person we are talking to. It is very possible that this person will become increasingly determined to convince us of the righteousness of their position, and if we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves in a heated argument very easily.
The reason this happens so quickly and easily is that the middle brain (the limbic system) is interpreting the fact that we have a dramatic difference of opinion as “dangerous,” and throwing each of us into the part of the brain designed to deal with danger (the lower brain, or brainstem) where the only options are fight (argue) or flight (give up and give in).
If, however, being as influential in our life and the lives of others is important to us, we can ensure we are coming from the fully-conscious brain (the Top of the Mind) and engage this other person in a way that avoids arguing without avoiding the argument, or the tendency to sweep the issue “under the rug.”
To do this, we first must be willing to become curious about several factors: 1) What part of the brain is the other person coming from, because as long as they are in their lower brain (the brainstem), they will not be particularly interested in hearing/understanding our perspective. This means trying to give them information, or even being “rational” with them will prove ineffective.
Therefore, I suggest that we listen to learn what’s important to them, because if our goal is to create a solution-focused conversation (versus an argument), we will need to first model what we want from them. In other words, if we want them to listen and understand our perspective, we must be willing to do that with them. Or, as Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand, and then be understood.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean that we agree with them. It just means that we are no longer going to argue with them about who’s right, but instead begin to determine if any aspect of what is important to them matches what is important to us.
If so (once we have communicated our understanding of their perspective), we can begin to craft a way of being that includes what is important to both of us. If not (meaning that there is no common ground whatsoever), we can still avoid arguing with them by simply acknowledging that we can understand how they would see the situation the way they do, and go on about our business.
All of this, however, requires that we be “fully conscious” so that we are making purposeful decisions on how we engage others, which means we must be coming from the “Top of the Mind,” or the upper 80% of the brain.
This is what I teach. I have the pleasure of going around the world teaching people how to access their best by accessing the clear, confident, creative part of the brain, regardless of the situation. Therefore, if you would like those in your organization (and/or family) to learn this new way of interacting, I suggest you contact me, because until we can become fully conscious and avoid arguing without avoiding the argument (or the issue), we will never be able to create a fully conscious experience of life.
~ All the best, Dr. Bill