CHAPTER 1 Rules of engagement

‘Where are you going? I haven’t finished yet. Get back here — we need to talk this through!’

I can’t remember the catalyst for our first argument, but I can remember clearly the way my fiancée calmly left the room. It was the first ‘spirited debate’ we had experienced in our five-year relationship. It was a mystery to me why Gai would walk away and leave the matter unresolved. I’m not sure whether I was more angry about our disagreement or her calm exit. Shouldn’t the situation stir up a more emotional response on her part?

In the doorway her gentle voice spoke volumes: ‘I’ll speak with you when you’re ready to stop yelling and start talking.’

‘I’m ready now!’ I yelled back.

‘Clearly you’re not,’ she whispered as she quietly left the room.

The solution is often found away from the experience, not knee-deep in it!

Not that I knew it then, but the time alone helped me to achieve a major breakthrough that would affect not only my communication with the person I loved more than life itself, but my wider communication from that day forward.

On communication failure

How could two people who had so much in common be so far apart in their thinking? Thinking about everything we were about to embark on in the coming year, including exchanging vows in front of our respective families and close friends, I wondered whether it might be hard to make a lifetime commitment to each other if the first sign of trouble saw one of us retreating from the room. ...

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