Maybe you’ve been having a “never-ending fight” with your spouse or roommate about them not being as tidy as you would like and don’t know how to approach the issue anymore. Maybe you’ve wanted to mention your colleague that you are not comfortable hearing their comments about your weight and don’t know how to start a conversation like that without getting into an argument.
Here are my tips on how to safely talk about subjects you dread.
TIP NO 1. Keep your attention on here and now.
In the previous article, I told you about the intention and its importance in making your relationships better. Now meet its pair, attention.
Keep your attention on here and now.
Don’t add fuel to the fire by bringing other things from the past. In other words, you don’t talk about tidiness with your roommate or spouse one minute and the next one you tell them they wouldn’t pay the bills on time if you weren’t the one reminding them; or that they are exactly like their mother.
Keep your attention on here and now and avoid words like ALWAYS or NEVER.
“You always think only about yourself. You never care about others.”
Above all, the only reaction you’ll trigger is defensiveness (I told you about the neurological mechanism behind it in this article). The other person will try to prove you wrong.
So you create the perfect environment to fuel the enemy image for one another and to persist in this game of “who’s right and who’s wrong,” instead of addressing the situation at hand, in the present.
TIP NO 2. Stick to the facts.
What exactly from what the other did or said is a trigger for you? Be as precise as possible.
“The last three evenings, you left your sock under the couch when you went to bed.”
is better than
“You left your socks under the couch.”
which is even better than
“You ALWAYS let your socks under the couch when you go to bed.”
In short, be as precise as possible.
Give only facts, not your story about what is happening. Follow IMMEDIATELY with the impact of their actions on you and an explicit request (see the next tip).
TIP NO 3. Share the impact on you and make a clear, DOABLE request
Tell them about your feelings and needs, only about yourself, the impact their behavior has on you. Choose very carefully how you express that. You don’t want any of your words to trigger FEAR, ANGER, GUILT or SHAME.
“The last three evenings, you left your socks under the sofa, when you went to bed. I feel irritated because I need order around me. Also, it’s essential for me to live in a healthy environment and keep germs at bay as much as possible.
In the future, would you be willing to put your socks somewhere you can see them before leaving the couch and put them in the laundry basket? “
TIP NO 4. Let go of your desire to be right or to get things the way you want.
The truth is the other might say NO and get defensive no matter how you choose your words.
Most importantly, refrain from trying to make them see your point and instead empathize.
Have the willingness to see things from their perspective — how do they feel, what do they need? Show them you understand them by guessing their feelings and needs. Once they see you can appreciate them and calm down, try again sharing the impact of what they do or say has on you and your request.
I hope you find my tips useful. If you need clarity around them, write me an email.
Wishing you ease and joy in everything you do,