by Elliott Kronenfeld

You can’t dig your way out of a hole.  Think about it.  You are in a hole and you keep digging.  What happens? Eventually, the hole gets so deep that you can’t throw the dirt out of the hole anymore and it just keeps falling back down around you.  If you start to dig sideways, the integrity of the walls weakens and risks falling in around you. What should you do?

Put the shovel down.

Think.  Do something different! If you want to get out of the hole, you can try to climb assuming the walls are solid enough with enough toe and finger holds to support you.  But if not, how do you get out of the hole? You ask for help. You need a lifeline.

The same is true for your relationships. When you find yourself at that point in a disagreement or situation when you feel like the walls are caving in, that is probably exactly what is happening.  How do you know you are in a relationship hole? You are in a hole when you feel the anxiety and frustration rising and have a competitive need to prove your point. The more you advocate for the other person to come to your side and you see them becoming more rigid, you are in a hole. When you are having an argument that isn’t coming to resolution, or just feeling like no matter what you are doing isn’t working, do something different. Stop.  Stop trying to explain yourself.  Stop trying to get the other person to understand your point of view.

Just stop.  Now breathe. Breathe again. Now think. What can you do differently? If you have been talking… trying to explain yourself, trying to tell the other person why the problem exists (and why it is their fault), try doing something different. Ask instead of tell.  Be curious.  If your energies aren’t bringing you success, why not? What else do you need to know about or from the other person?  Start again from their perspective and see if you can find a way to start making some progress.

Okay, back to the hole. What is one of the easiest way’s out of the hole?  Start filling it in again. Have the person outside the hole send you some of the soil (aka information and perspective!) so that you can stand on it until you can reach the rim and pull yourself out.

If you are struggling with having successful communications in your relationships, contact Elliott at

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