The skill of being able to “start with heart” refers to people considering what they really want and staying focused on achieving that goal. This involves better relationships, solutions, valuing others and being valued by them, and expressing love and consideration. Once emotions are strong, the stakes become higher, and opinions vary, people act in ways that seem designed to get the opposite reaction than the one desired.
For instance, a mother and daughter both want a good relationship filled with understanding and mutual respect but find themselves yelling at each other and calling each other “irresponsible,” “unfair,” and “uncaring.” They storm off having achieved exactly the opposite of what both wanted. When a person has strong emotions—for instance, anger or hurt—due to something another says or does, starting with one’s heart allows one to pause and ask this question: “What do I want for myself, for others, and for this relationship?” By pausing to ask and find the answer, people become open to change the way they see a situation and in how they will respond. Conversations are challenging when the outcome is important, and people differ on what the outcome should be when their emotions are strong. In those conversations, if people will begin with a heart evaluation and work on that first to recognize what they really want, they will have a better chance at engaging in the conversation in a way that brings clarity, trust, and mutual respect.
(Excerpt from Shut Tight)