So to take the pressure off, allow yourselves to divide your problem-solving conversations into two phases: information-gathering and brainstorming.
During the information-gathering phase, your only job is to understand your partner’s perspective and concerns.
Since you know you won’t have to solve anything, it will be easier to listen carefully because you won’t be mentally rehearsing your rebuttal while your partner is talking. Instead of a clever, convincing comeback, you should reiterate your partner’s concerns, and ask him or her to correct your understanding if your synopsis is inaccurate. Then switch roles.
Stay with this discussion until you both feel heard and understood. Then take a break, ideally for at least a day, and try to do something fun together before you start phase two of your discussion.
Start the brainstorming phase with each of you giving a brief summary of the other person’s perspective and concerns as you understand them.
Then get out your computer, white board or pad of paper and start jotting down every idea you can think of that could address both your concerns. Go ahead and get silly here if you want – laughter fosters cooperation!
Finally, go back through your list and pull out an idea to experiment with. Agree to try it out for a fixed period of time, and schedule another meeting to evaluate how well it is working. If the first idea does not address both parties’ concerns to your satisfaction, try another idea until you find one that does.