What about feelings?

And once we've gotten our feelings off our chest, it's their turn. Are we to hearing all about their anger and pain?

Feelings are too powerful to remain peacefully bottled. They will be heard one way or another, whether in leaks or bursts. And if handled indirectly or without honesty, they contaminate communication.

When we lay our feelings on the table, we run the risk of hurting others and of ruining relationships. We also put ourselves in a position to get hurt. What if the other person doesn't take our feelings seriously or responds by telling us something we don't want to hear?

We don't cry or lose our temper because we express our feelings too often, but because we express them too rarely. Like finally opening a carbonated drink that has been shaken, the results can be messy.

It's hard to hear someone else when we are feeling unheard, even if the reason we feel unheard is that we have chosen not to share.

As we grow up, each of us develops a characteristic "emotional footprint" whose shape is determined by which feelings we believe are okay to have and express and which are not.

Depending on how we handle them, feelings can lead to great trouble. But the feelings themselves just are. In that sense, feelings are like arms or legs. If you hit or kick someone, then your arms or legs are causing trouble. But there's nothing inherently wrong with arms or legs. The same with feelings.

Learn That Your Feelings Are as Important as Theirs. Some of us can't see our own feelings because we have learned somewhere along the way that other people's feelings are more important than ours.

When you are more concerned about others' feelings than your own, you teach others to ignore your feelings too. And beware: one of the reasons you haven't raised the issue is that you don't want to jeopardize the relationship. Yet by not raising it, the resentment you feel will grow and slowly erode the relationship anyway.

Peanuts aren't nuts. Whales aren't fish. Tomatoes aren't vegetables. And attribution, judgments, and accusations aren't feelings.

It isn't the shark that's changed; it's the story you tell yourself about what's happening. In any given situation our feelings follow our thoughts.

And on the flip side, it is not negative feelings in themselves that distract us from productivity, but the failure to acknowledge them, and to deal with them directly, efficiently, and honestly.

--Douglas Stone + Bruce Patton + Sheila Heen