When You’re an Assertor Communicating with a Contemplator

You like quick, snappy decisions and big-picture thinking. You’re positive everything will turn out fine, and if not, you’ll deal with problems as they arise. Meanwhile, your loved one, as a contemplator, needs time to reach a decision, works through all the details, and wants to anticipate any possible failures. Together, you can be a great team, but only if you let the contemplator have her say.

Quick Tips for Assertor-Contemplator Conversations

  • DO prepare for a long discussion. Quick decisions make a contemplator feel pushed and uneasy.
  • DO expect a lot of questions and concerns about details that, to you, seem minor and off-task.
  • DO allow the contemplator to ‘worry through’ all the decision trees without minimizing her concerns.
  • DO be willing to set a reasonable deadline for a decision, but think days and weeks, not hours and minutes.
  • DO NOT become frustrated with the slow pace and lose your temper. Stay calm if you want the contemplator to hear and respond to your concerns.

Give and Take Is Key When Assertor Meets Contemplator

If opposites attract, assertors and contemplators should be in great shape. However, the disparity in their conversation styles can make for a high-conflict situation, especially since neither assertors nor contemplators tend to seek consensus or back down when challenged.

When you’re on the same page, your big picture thinking can combine with their tendency to focus on pitfalls and details to craft excellent solutions to any problem. When you disagree, you may need to step back and relax so that you can sort out each other’s concerns and goals.

To communicate with the contemplators in your life, take the time to listen to their read on the situation. Try to understand why they’re so concerned with certain details, and do not downplay or minimize their complaints. See where they fit into your big-picture view of the situation. You can let their views enrich and deepen yours. After they’ve stated their case, try to help them zoom out and see how their ideas affect the larger project.

Try to avoid heated conflict, since, while you both thrive on it, it won’t help you reach a mutually agreeable decision. Navigating the issues surrounding aging isn’t a win-lose situation, so you don’t need to try to score points. Instead, try to explore options and avoid pitfalls, together.

Remember that contemplators want to be heard and they want you to understand why they are worried about specific outcomes. Incorporate preparations for their feared negative results into your plans, and you’ll both be happier with the final decision.

Learn more about communicating with a contemplator here.