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My amazing and supportive parents, Bud and Claire, have been happily married for over 60 years. Like all couples, they have great moments as well as occasional not-so-pretty moments. I hope they won’t disown me for taking artistic license with the following story.
Bud is in the kitchen. Claire is in the living room.
“Claire, where are the car keys?!” says Bud in an annoyed, condescending tone. The unspoken word idiot hangs at the end of the sentence. Claire’s ego is immediately triggered.
“I don’t know, Bud. You had them last!” Claire is pleased because she turned it back on him.
In fact, she has one-upped Bud with concrete evidence of his apparent lack of intelligence. Unfortunately, the evening they will now have will not be a Norman Rockwell scene.
The good news is that three of their seven kids are full-time communication coaches. Imagine the same interaction after Claire has received a little free coaching.
“Claire, where are the car keys?!”
Before she reacts to the unspoken message, Claire remembers something one of her very clever children told her. She pauses, takes a deep breath, and responds in a calm, confident, gentle tone.
“I don’t know, Bud, let me come help you find them.”
Bud is smart. He knows that if he keeps using such a nasty tone, he’s going to look stupid. He responds in a more positive, respectful way.
“No problem, I’ll keep looking. Thanks.”
Because Claire chose a different response, Bud’s behavior shifted positively.
To find out how you can apply 'The Frame Game', check out Partner Mindset Technique number 4, in the book.