You’re both focused on details, but your approaches to decision-making tend to be at odds with each other. As a narrator, you tend to focus on problems because you intend to solve them and make a course of action workable. The contemplator, on the other hand, focuses on problems to highlight negatives and to rule out certain courses of action.
That means that whenever you start trying to solve a problem (perhaps by answering “But the concert’s on Tuesday and I have an appointment Tuesday morning,” with “Well, we’ll have plenty of time to shower and change in between”), the contemplator feels like you’re minimizing their worries instead. Since contemplators also love drama, this can trigger a dynamic that’s fun for them but toxic for you. Learning to rein in some of your natural tendencies can help these conversations go more smoothly.
Quick Tips for Narrator-Contemplator Conversations
- DO understand that when they list a potential negative they’re not asking for a solution.
- DO refocus personal attacks as attacks on the situation, not on you.
- DO set a deadline for making a decision, and stick to it.
- DO periodically refocus the conversation on larger goals.
- DON’T withdraw in the face of contemplator drama.
When a Narrator and a Contemplator Meet, Milestones Are a Must
There are two big pitfalls that can derail communication and collaboration between narrators and contemplators. On the one hand, it’s easy to fall into a negative dynamic, where the contemplator picks at the narrator, trying to get a reaction and spark drama, and the narrator withdraws, antagonizing the contemplator even more. On the other hand, when you’re working well together, the combination of your detail-oriented natures may keep you from ever reaching a decision.
To avoid drama, acknowledge a contemplator’s feelings, but do not treat excessive negativity as a commentary on you, your skills, or your ideas. Contemplators use drama to rouse themselves to action and goad themselves forward. They also see attention as a sign that you value them and understand their feelings. So, the more you ignore them, the more devalued they feel, and the more they will attempt to provoke a reaction.
Instead, acknowledge their negative feelings from the start, but throw in a bit of praise. “I understand this is a difficult and depressing conversation for you, and I’m so proud of how you’re working through this problem.” That will refocus a contemplator on the decision to be made instead of all the negative events that have led up to the current situation.
Set up milestones before you get together with times or dates attached. This will help keep both of you on track, since both narrators and contemplators thrive when they have clear rules and boundaries. As you work through options and analyze approaches, periodically restate the overarching goal so that you continue moving towards a decision.
Once you have a decision, write it down and have the contemplator commit to it. This will let you both move on to other conversations and projects.