Why are we in trouble?

We look for information to support our view and give that information the most favorable interpretation. Then we feel even more certain that our view is right.

Each would claim that their own statements were made in self-defense. Those are the two classic characteristics of the cycle: both parties think they are the victim, and both think they are acting only to defend themselves. This is how well-intentioned people get themselves into trouble.

When we think others have bad intentions toward us, it affects our behavior. And, in turn, how we behave affects how they treat us. Before we know it, our assumption that they have bad intentions toward us has come true.

One of the most common contributions to a problem, and one of the easiest to overlook, is the simple act of avoiding.

When you hold yourself to an all-or-nothing standard, even a small mistake can seem catastrophic and almost impossible to admit. If you are busy trying to shore up your "no mistakes, no failures" identity, you won't be able to engage in a meaningful learning conversation. And if you can't do that, you are likely to make the same mistakes again.

Even if the friend can see what we're doing to make the situation worse, we rarely give them permission to challenge us - to help us see the other side's perspective and our own contribution.

Being disappointed that someone isn't reading our mind is one of our contributions to the problem.

The secret of powerful expression is recognizing that you are the ultimate authority on you. You are an expert on what you think, how you feel, and why you've come to this place. If you think it or feel it, you are entitled to say it, and no one can legitimately contradict you. You only get in trouble if you try to assert what you are not the final authority on - who is right, who intended what, what happened. Speak fully the range of your experience and you will be clear. Speak for yourself and you can speak with power.

Surprisingly often, an "obvious" and self-serving lie turns out to be a person's actual belief.

--Douglas Stone + Bruce Patton + Sheila Heen