We have probably all experienced the sensation of "being in two minds", of being torn between "head and heart".
I help people to understand what is really important to them, and why, and how to integrate their emotional and rational responses so that they can make decisions they are comfortable with, whatever the outcome.
Sometimes, those decisions need to be communicated to others, or may may need to evolve in the course of a negotiation. I help people prepare for those conversations, for example by teaching and practicing listening skills and techniques for dealing with highly emotional and taboo subjects.
Where communication has already broken down we can also explore how to get the other parties to "come to the table".
Simon was in conflict with his cousins over the tea and coffee importing business founded by their grandfather. Simon's father played a large part in building the business but, after a falling out with his brothers, had left to do other things. Simon had inherited their father's shares but had never been involved in the running of the business.
Simon's major complaint when I first met him was that his uncles had used their voting power to make it almost impossible for Simon's father (and Simon in his turn) to sell their shares. They had then proceeded over time to increase their directors' remuneration and to reduce dividends.
That generation had now all died. Simon and his cousins got on well enough at a superficial social level - they "rubbed along well enough" - but they had done so by "not talking about the war". For all Simon expressed his grievance in financial terms, listening to him tell his story it was clear that what was really gnawing at him was that his father's contribution had been written out of the company's history and that he always felt slightly uncomfortable when he was with his cousins and their families.
We went on to explore how he thought his cousins might react if he raised the subject. On the one hand, they would likely feel their income was under threat and could become very defensive (ie not listen at all). On the other, they had always been fearful that Simon might resort to litigation and was possibly just waiting for the right time (they had been talking "sale or float" for several years) and, if he could persuade them that was not the case, that might provide an opening.
Finally, I coached him in preparation for the ensuing negotiations.
The story continues...