Communication skills

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Linked
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Re: Communication skills

Post by Linked » Mon Feb 05, 2024 4:40 pm

alas wrote:
Thu Jan 25, 2024 6:50 pm
Alright, I will kind of aim the discussions at how to talk to your still believing family, since I hope none of you are involved in things like domestic violence or some of the other crap I worked with. :shock:

So, the first part of communication is understanding the other person, so, we will start there before moving how to get the other person to understand you.

So, your dear spouse says something to the effect of, “How could you do this to me? I married a good priesthood holder! Now I am sitting by myself and trying to make excuses to our friends for why you aren’t there.”

And your brain goes immediately to how you are going to defend yourself from this unfair accusation.

I mean, you think you know what she means. She is angry AGAIN that you no longer think the church is perfect. But you feel like you haven’t changed who you are. You think that you just went looking for the truth, and gosh, it looks like the church doesn’t have it. You think it is the church’s fault and you are angry at it, and angry that she could be angry at you. Unfair.

But you have already had this argument before. Ummm, four times now.

So, a different approach is called for.

Rule #1 when you have the same old argument over again, you are not communicating real needs or feelings.

In order for her to feel heard, she needs to know that you understand her feelings.

So, what do you hear underneath her words? What is her emotion? Take a guess and then reflect this back to her.

“It sounds to me like you are ________.”

Then let her respond if you are correct about what she is feeling.

Now, I am going to let you readers take a shot at what she might be feeling. The closer you hit to the correct emotion the better the discussion goes.

Yeah, yeah, I know this sounds kind of silly. But it does a couple of things. One it slows the conversation down. When someone is caught in strong feelings, then can quickly get more worked up. This helps keep them from getting more and more worked up by simply slowing things down. Another thing it does is tell them that you are trying to understand. If you are trying and they see it, they are more likely to try to help the process. It also prevents you from responding to the wrong emotion. If you react like she is angry, and really she is hurt, she will feel pushed away when what she wants is comfort. Also, if you are reacting to the wrong emotion, it is much harder to find a workable solution. The argument will keep spinning with both of you feeling misunderstood.

Also, Exponent II has a series right now on mixed faith marriages. It has some good tips.

If a simple reflection of their emotion feels too weird, you might try turning it into a question. For example, “obviously you are upset about church today. Would you like to tell me what happened, because I do care about how this is affecting you.” This kind of response leads into the discussion and slows things down too. It also says you want to understand. Then after she gives details of what happened, maybe you can work on a solution.

The main thing with a repeated argument is to go slower and make sure you are understanding each other.

So, try some personal examples of real life arguments and suggest some reflective listening examples. Or you can even try some on line kind of examples and how that might work.

Basically reflective listening is reflecting back to them what you hear them saying or reflecting to them how they might be feeling. It is meant to convey that you are listening and trying to understand and ask if you have it right.
This is great, thanks Alas!

One issue I run into is that this is easier said than done. I go in with a plan to use reflective listening and let it be about the other person with the knowledge that it's the best method, but the pain/indignation/anger in the moment is overwhelming! And once I'm overwhelmed I can't even think straight, and in the best case scenario we take a break and get nowhere and worst case scenario we both wonder if the relationship is worth the pain.

I would love to hear thoughts on how to deal with this. I have a couple strategies which I try with varying success.

- Internally note what you feel hurt about and plan to come back to it another time. This honors your side of things without derailing the immediate conversation
- Use some reflective listening on yourself about why you feel angry. This can help get you to pain or sadness which can be less overwhelming.
- Maintain space between how they feel about you and how you feel about yourself. I am a validation junky and for validation junkies this is really hard. I've been practicing a form of self-parenting to try to attain this which has been surprisingly helpful. I imagine how I would think of me if I were my own dad, which draws in some of my paternal love for my children toward myself. The good things I do seem brighter and I give myself more grace for the things I am still working on. My parents remain strongly TBM so this helps fill the gap where I know that they cannot fully appreciate apostate me.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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RubinHighlander
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Re: Communication skills

Post by RubinHighlander » Tue Feb 06, 2024 9:54 am

moksha wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2024 3:57 pm
Cnsl1 wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2024 10:32 am
Reminds me of the Mehrabian Study in the 70s, Alas.

When communicating emotionality, it's what... 52% body language, 47% tone, and 7% the actual words? I'm sure I have the percentages off slightly, but that's the gist.
Clarifying is crucial.
Like are they mentally performing the perambulations from the Ministry of Silly Walks while typing on the keyboard? It is hard to tell without visual cues. At least we can "look on the bright side of life" and give them the benefit of the doubt. Reading is too hard when being overly serious.
I think more people should watch Monty Python (Holy Grail, Life of Brian, Meaning of Life, etc.) as documentaries, not just comedy. They are brilliant commentaries of silly sapient behaviors and there are valuable lessons there!
Do you hear, let them be well used; for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time: after your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
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alas
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Re: Communication skills

Post by alas » Tue Feb 06, 2024 3:29 pm

Mayan, part of teaching boundaries is teaching people to verbalize or otherwise inform their family, co-worker, neighbor, wife, whatever, about their boundaries. Just like the US needs to inform Mexico to extradite criminals back into the US so they can be prosecuted or any other agreement we want to have with Mexico. Part of having healthy boundaries is the ability to think them through, decide what is reasonable or possible, then communicate them to the other person. Then apply consequences if violated.

For example, part of normal interpersonal boundaries, as well as harassment laws, is that person a communicate to person b that the sexual comment or behavior is unwanted. The boundary has to be communicated. Otherwise, person a has no case in court claiming sexual harassment. No, boundaries are not magical and they are not automatically understood. Person b has no responsibility to guess and change their behavior on a guess.

However, I can decide without ever communicating that person b is a creep, and stay away. In the case of non communicated boundaries, I am totally responsible for avoiding or ending the relationship. Person b then might be confused by why I am avoiding them, but they should not be expected to change their behavior. Now, if I communicate the boundary, then if person b doesn’t change, then consequences. They get charged with sexual harassment. So, if I don’t communicate the boundary, I can avoid them or change jobs, but I should have no expectation.

….well unless there is a law. Then the interpersonal boundary is written law. Punching a person is assault. The law covers that. So, I don’t have to verbalize it to them, or wear a sign. Then it is their responsibility to know the law.

But laws cannot cover everything, so we have boundaries that need to be communicated.

Say, with a child, in my house, if you make a mess, you are responsible to clean up your mess. Now, it would be unfair to punish a child that doesn’t know the rule. Bad boundaries would be punishing your kid or spouse for something you never told them. And all kinds of people have bad boundaries.

See, bad boundaries also exist. And there are lots of ways a person can have bad boundaries. Some people have really bad boundaries. They don’t bother telling people what the rules are. Or, they walk all over the other’s boundaries, then feel it is unfair that they have consequences. Or they think the other has no rights, or doesn’t deserve respect. Or they are a people pleaser and can’t say no when they want to, or are constantly disrespecting their own humanity because others seem more important.

In a family with healthy boundaries, people are clear on the rules, and clear on rolls, and who has authority is clear, and the personhood of all is respected. When rules change with no notice, like the rules are way different if daddy is drunk, then that is bad boundaries. When people are expected to do things they are not capable of, that is bad boundaries. If one person is always excluded, or two people are so close there is no differentiation, then that is bad boundaries.

For example in my family growing up, I was made responsible for things only a parent can and should be responsible for. Then I was punished because my older brothers didn’t obey me like they should obey parents. The boundaries were all screwed up, because I was put into the roll of adult when I wasn’t an adult. Another example would be if one person always speaks for another, telling them how they feel, what they want, basically walking over the fact that the other person is a person, then they are what is called enmeshed, with no clear lines between them.

The fact that boundaries can be unhealthy doesn’t mean the concept is bad. It just means that Russia has invaded Ukraine by refusing to accept the boundary. It can mean that Texas is refusing to accept that it is part of the US and subject to US laws even when it doesn’t like the laws. Bad boundaries doesn’t mean no boundaries.

In exactly the same way as nations do not respect boundaries, a child can refuse to accept the authority of a parent and they suffer the consequences, or the parent can refuse to see the individual rights and personhood of a child and become abusive. All child abuse is a boundary violation, just like all war is a boundary violation, because it is the parent not respecting the personhood of the child, and is illegal if it is specified by law as illegal. But there are forms of child abuse that are not illegal, but still boundary violations because the abuse refuses to accept the separate personhood of the child. The US can violate states rights, and is a boundary violation between the feds and the state. That is all stated in the constitution, but sometimes we still need the Supreme Court to decide, because no rules cover all possibilities. So, boundaries are constantly being negotiated.

So, when in doubt of boundaries, consider how the same thing might apply between nations, because one concept is based on the other as a way of describing what already goes on between people. It happens whether we name it or not, and is harmful to people whether we call it bad boundaries or name it ungueyghnhimer.

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alas
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Re: Communication skills

Post by alas » Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:40 pm

I have been thinking about what to tell Angel about not trusting feelings. This is really quite common in the mental health world. The cure for it depends on the reason for it. Some people take it so far they stop having feelings and become kind of like Mr. Spock. They operate as much as possible from just logic. And you know what, it isn’t really a bad way to live. It is a big improvement over the idiots who operate strictly from emotion.

But it does have limits. Stuffing your feelings too much can reach the point of too many feelings kept too tightly inside and the person goes postal. But I really don’t think Angel is doing that.

But, yes, I did it. I was very intellectual about everything. When my oldest was expecting her first child, she was unsure if I was even excited. I was just being too logical about it all. So, yeah, sometimes you can come across as weird. Most people err on the their side of things and their life is ruled too much by emotion. Nobody really likes Mr. Spock.

But, my suspicion is that Angel was too much of an emotion person, and is now over compensating the other direction by not trusting emotions. When one feels betrayed by emotion, they can want to avoid that kind of betrayal ever again. I saw it clinically with wives who had trusted and married an abuser, or women who had been raped by someone they trusted. They no longer trusted their own judgement about who to trust.

Now, Angel is a bit different because she trusted an institution, and the institution betrayed that trust. So, it won’t be her judgement about who to go on a date with, or who to marry, but is going to be broader. It wasn’t one person, but a whole community.

Now, I would guess, Angel, that you don’t want to go back to the trusting person you were before, especially about your kids. So, in a big way, you see your reaction now as sensible and safer. Others may see it as a problem, especially those in the community you no longer trust. They expect you to trust them and refuse to see themselves as the problem. Don’t trust them.

So, with my date rape victims, we worked on “red flags” of when to trust your gut that was saying “don’t trust this guy.” If you are going to get into an elevator, and three drunk (pick your racial or ethnic group) men get on, and you feel nervous, respect it and don’t worry about them feeling it was you being racist. If you are nervous about trusting, respect your feelings. Who the hell cares if you are acting paranoid? You have a right to be paranoid.

Most often, women override their feelings of distrust because our society demands too much blind trust. We are taught to kiss the creepy guy Mom calls grandpa, and taught to override our own feelings. We are taught to say yes to any boy who asks us to dance and avoid our own feelings that we don’t like the guy and giving him one dance only falsely encourages him. We are taught to ignore our own feelings and feel what somebody TELLS us to feel.

So, as far as going too far in not trusting humans, you go girl! Learn that your feelings are important and nobody should tell you how you are supposed to feel.

This really ties into church here because growing up in the church we get told that the warm feeling we feel at girls camp (really the warmth of friendship) means the church is true. No it doesn’t. It means you feel happy and don’t let anyone tell you that happy feeling means something it doesn’t.

But we grow up getting told that the emotion we feel in testimony means a specific thing, about the church, not just the meeting. We are told to trust “priesthood” above our own feelings. We are told that the warm feeling when we pray about the BoM means it is true. Rather than being allowed to decide for ourselves what the feeling means. That is a boundary violation. Big time. Somebody is telling us how we feel, when we are the only ones who should get to decide how we feel. But we grow up with that constant boundary violation. Other people telling us how we feel, how we should feel, and how would they know how or why we feel? They don’t. They lie to you and tell you they know more about your feelings than you do.

So, right now, the best thing you can do is to refuse to let anybody tell you how to feel.

Once you get good at refusing to let somebody else tell you how you feel, you will start to learn what your feelings really mean. If that takes distrusting your feelings and operating on logic, then you go girl. That s exactly what you should do.

Because when it comes down to it, our feelings should match the real logical world.

Now, often we can be aware of things on an emotional level before we see the logic that goes with them. Like the kid who doesn’t want to kiss grandpa. His feelings do have logic, if the idiot parents look. The kid doesn’t know grandpa like mom does. The kid needs more time. The kid needs to have his fear of strangers respected. Grandpa isn’t a stranger to mom, but is still a stranger to the kid, and the kid needs his real feelings respected. Now, if mom never lies to him about who to trust, the kid will learn to look at mom for an indication of if the person is safe. But if mom pushes, the the kid doesn’t learn to trust *mom* enough to trust who mom trusts.

But as women especially we are taught that being “nice” is more important than feeling safe, by parents who force us to kiss grandpa. And in the church we are taught to believe what theirs tell us about our feelings. These bad boundary lessons need to be UNLEARNED first, before we learn to trust our feelings again. We need to learn by looking at the logic of the situation and seeing that our feelings can match.

So, is there logic to not getting on the elevator with three drunk guys? No matter their race or ethnicity. But we do tend to trust others like us. So, after you learn to hear your feelings say, “I am nervous about getting on the elevator with these guys!” And respect your own feelings by not getting on the elevator, THEN you can start to ask yourself, if they looked like me, would I still be nervous? If they weren’t drunk, would I still be nervous? Then you can operate from both the emotion and the logic. And then you can see it is three guys, drunk guys, enclosed elevator, that makes you nervous, not necessarily their race. But first you have to learn to know and trust your emotions by stopping the old habit of feeling what someone told you that you felt.

It took me a long time, years even, and that’s OK. It takes whatever it takes. So, first thing to learn is that you don’t have to feel how anyone tells you. You do that by putting logic as “the truth” and for as long as it takes, you ignore feelings. Then, gradually, you learn to check your feelings against the logic. Then gradually, you learn how to trust your own feelings again. And you keep a good healthy balance between logic and emotion, not relying on only one or the other.

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alas
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Re: Communication skills

Post by alas » Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:44 pm

And sorry to be only getting to this every other day or so. I thought that because I am sitting around so much after surgery, that I would have time. But it takes both time and not being in so much pain that I don’t want to deal with it. As I start trying to walk again, I find I am in more pain than before. And if I am hurting, I just don’t want to have to concentrate and make sense.

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Re: Communication skills

Post by Mayan_Elephant » Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:51 pm

In my lifetime, the boundaries of the individual states have not changed. Though, the relations and terms by which states interact has changed.

I get your point, though I am not convinced that "boundaries" is even close to an appropriate metaphor. Asking a child to be the parent has nothing whatsoever to do with a boundary. Those are conditions. The walls have not moved, the terms for living in the house have changed. I think it is more than just semantics. It is damn important that we understand that we set the terms and conditions and other people set terms and conditions. We choose to accept the terms, or not. Other people choose to accept the terms, or not. Things are moving all the time - unlike a boundary.

Like I said before ;) , this is not the first time I have been on the losing or the STFU side of a conversation about boundaries. I don't expect anyone to see it like I do. I gave that up. Do you see my point at all? Even a small fraction of a part of it?
“Not ripe in spring, no standing by summer, Laches by fall, and moot by winter.”

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Re: Communication skills

Post by Mayan_Elephant » Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:52 pm

alas wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:44 pm
And sorry to be only getting to this every other day or so. I thought that because I am sitting around so much after surgery, that I would have time. But it takes both time and not being in so much pain that I don’t want to deal with it. As I start trying to walk again, I find I am in more pain than before. And if I am hurting, I just don’t want to have to concentrate and make sense.
What? Did you fracture a plateau? Get well and be well.
“Not ripe in spring, no standing by summer, Laches by fall, and moot by winter.”

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alas
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Re: Communication skills

Post by alas » Tue Feb 06, 2024 5:32 pm

Mayan_Elephant wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:51 pm
In my lifetime, the boundaries of the individual states have not changed. Though, the relations and terms by which states interact has changed.

I get your point, though I am not convinced that "boundaries" is even close to an appropriate metaphor. Asking a child to be the parent has nothing whatsoever to do with a boundary. Those are conditions. The walls have not moved, the terms for living in the house have changed. I think it is more than just semantics. It is damn important that we understand that we set the terms and conditions and other people set terms and conditions. We choose to accept the terms, or not. Other people choose to accept the terms, or not. Things are moving all the time - unlike a boundary.

Like I said before ;) , this is not the first time I have been on the losing or the STFU side of a conversation about boundaries. I don't expect anyone to see it like I do. I gave that up. Do you see my point at all? Even a small fraction of a part of it?
So, come up with a better word. But remember there is much more to boundaries between nations than a line on the map. If you come up with a better word, I’ll even start using it. Right now, I don’t have a better word. And, yes, there are problems with using it, because it is a tricky concept to grasp, and I wish that people wouldn’t use therapy terms when they don’t know what they are talking about. Like you can’t see that expecting a person to be an adult with all the authority of a parent when they are no more than a kid, is the same as expecting Ukraine to want to be part of Russia. It is saying “you have to be what I want you to be because who you are and what you want isn’t important.” You can’t grasp it because you have never had a “Russia” invade your boundaries.

But did my explanation help at all?

I had clients who didn’t get it, so I changed the language, and told them to just ignore anything written or spoken in gobbledygook, because they struggled with the language and they needed to just accept that they didn’t speak that language. Then I explained human rights, that each person has certain rights. One thing they have the right to do is set terms and conditions for any relationship. Anther thing they have the right to is to be seen for who they are. And a whole bunch of other things. Then I taught that client how to maintain their human rights and how to respect other people’s human rights.

And that way of explaining the concept also has drawbacks and people who just can’t see that children have human rights, or that women are really people too, or that there are all kinds of rules and conventions we use in society to respect human rights. They can’t see for example how two people can be so close that one is harmed or even destroyed.

But most people like the comparison to the borders and boundaries between nations and can grasp it easier that way.

And for here, since you are the person who struggles with the language of respecting human rights and how that translates when we use the psychobabble of “boundaries” just kind of do a mental translation and I will keep using the word you don’t like. Because I admit it is borrowing a term that does not fit perfectly. I don’t know if anyone else ever explains it in terms of international boundaries, because it was never taught to way to me is school. I just kind of came up with that because some clients were having the same problem you have. The term isn’t a perfect fit.

I do try to explain when I use psychobabble. So, if anybody else has words they don’t understand of don’t agree with, I’ll try to explain.

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Re: Communication skills

Post by Mayan_Elephant » Tue Feb 06, 2024 8:01 pm

alas wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2024 5:32 pm


But did my explanation help at all?

Yes. Thank you. I understand why you use the word. That was helpful.

I am still not even a tiny bit more convinced that using the word and concept and metaphor is helpful for someone who is making decisions for themselves and others. I mean why stop at nations and oceans? Does the gravity of the sun and stars relate to what I am about to do?

My proposed replacement for the boundary metaphor is actual terms and actual conditions - or just "conditions." No metaphor. Call this what it really is and get rid of the guessing and loose interpretations.

As you know, I have been given many conditions along the way, some I accept, some I reject. Sometimes I reject the conditions politely and sometimes I just tear up the offer. We all do that. Some hit the conditions with a massive collision, some folks submit spectacularly, some folks fake it fashionably and get along, and some folks are the extreme victim in any setting. Some folks are centered and deal with all the other extremes quite well. But that is the point - they choose, they deal, they show up based on their conditions and in consideration of others'. This boundary thing is just bizarre to me. So bizarre.
“Not ripe in spring, no standing by summer, Laches by fall, and moot by winter.”

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deacon blues
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Re: Communication skills

Post by deacon blues » Tue Feb 06, 2024 8:23 pm

I only get to this every day or two, but....
I think Alas's ideas and writing is remarkable. She's smarter on her bad days than I am on my good days.
Different things trigger different people.
My Dad's abusive yelling at me was as bad (maybe worse) as being punched, especially since some times it just went on and on, and other times it would come out of the blue, and felt like a surprise attack. It kept me on the defensive all the time. But he never hit me, well twice, but it didn't really hurt. The yelling did.
I've only had a couple of bosses who yelled like my Dad, and they only did it once each, that I saw, but wow, did it ever trigger me. I can hardly think of them kindly, even years later.
God is Love. God is Truth. The greatest problem with organized religion is that the organization becomes god, rather than a means of serving God.

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alas
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Re: Communication skills

Post by alas » Tue Feb 06, 2024 11:03 pm

Mayan_Elephant wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:52 pm
alas wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:44 pm
And sorry to be only getting to this every other day or so. I thought that because I am sitting around so much after surgery, that I would have time. But it takes both time and not being in so much pain that I don’t want to deal with it. As I start trying to walk again, I find I am in more pain than before. And if I am hurting, I just don’t want to have to concentrate and make sense.
What? Did you fracture a plateau? Get well and be well.
Surgery for the results of being allergic to surgical steel. The body defends against things like that, and like any allergic reaction, one wishes they had not been exposed to the substance. But, even after the doctor removed the hard wear, (third surgery) my body still went slightly crazy defending itself, so removing the bone popcorn was 4th surgery.

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alas
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Re: Communication skills

Post by alas » Tue Feb 06, 2024 11:52 pm

Linked wrote:
Mon Feb 05, 2024 4:40 pm
alas wrote:
Thu Jan 25, 2024 6:50 pm
Alright, I will kind of aim the discussions at how to talk to your still believing family, since I hope none of you are involved in things like domestic violence or some of the other crap I worked with. :shock:

So, the first part of communication is understanding the other person, so, we will start there before moving how to get the other person to understand you.

So, your dear spouse says something to the effect of, “How could you do this to me? I married a good priesthood holder! Now I am sitting by myself and trying to make excuses to our friends for why you aren’t there.”

And your brain goes immediately to how you are going to defend yourself from this unfair accusation.

I mean, you think you know what she means. She is angry AGAIN that you no longer think the church is perfect. But you feel like you haven’t changed who you are. You think that you just went looking for the truth, and gosh, it looks like the church doesn’t have it. You think it is the church’s fault and you are angry at it, and angry that she could be angry at you. Unfair.

But you have already had this argument before. Ummm, four times now.

So, a different approach is called for.

Rule #1 when you have the same old argument over again, you are not communicating real needs or feelings.

In order for her to feel heard, she needs to know that you understand her feelings.

So, what do you hear underneath her words? What is her emotion? Take a guess and then reflect this back to her.

“It sounds to me like you are ________.”

Then let her respond if you are correct about what she is feeling.

Now, I am going to let you readers take a shot at what she might be feeling. The closer you hit to the correct emotion the better the discussion goes.

Yeah, yeah, I know this sounds kind of silly. But it does a couple of things. One it slows the conversation down. When someone is caught in strong feelings, then can quickly get more worked up. This helps keep them from getting more and more worked up by simply slowing things down. Another thing it does is tell them that you are trying to understand. If you are trying and they see it, they are more likely to try to help the process. It also prevents you from responding to the wrong emotion. If you react like she is angry, and really she is hurt, she will feel pushed away when what she wants is comfort. Also, if you are reacting to the wrong emotion, it is much harder to find a workable solution. The argument will keep spinning with both of you feeling misunderstood.

Also, Exponent II has a series right now on mixed faith marriages. It has some good tips.

If a simple reflection of their emotion feels too weird, you might try turning it into a question. For example, “obviously you are upset about church today. Would you like to tell me what happened, because I do care about how this is affecting you.” This kind of response leads into the discussion and slows things down too. It also says you want to understand. Then after she gives details of what happened, maybe you can work on a solution.

The main thing with a repeated argument is to go slower and make sure you are understanding each other.

So, try some personal examples of real life arguments and suggest some reflective listening examples. Or you can even try some on line kind of examples and how that might work.

Basically reflective listening is reflecting back to them what you hear them saying or reflecting to them how they might be feeling. It is meant to convey that you are listening and trying to understand and ask if you have it right.
This is great, thanks Alas!

One issue I run into is that this is easier said than done. I go in with a plan to use reflective listening and let it be about the other person with the knowledge that it's the best method, but the pain/indignation/anger in the moment is overwhelming! And once I'm overwhelmed I can't even think straight, and in the best case scenario we take a break and get nowhere and worst case scenario we both wonder if the relationship is worth the pain.

I would love to hear thoughts on how to deal with this. I have a couple strategies which I try with varying success.

- Internally note what you feel hurt about and plan to come back to it another time. This honors your side of things without derailing the immediate conversation
- Use some reflective listening on yourself about why you feel angry. This can help get you to pain or sadness which can be less overwhelming.
- Maintain space between how they feel about you and how you feel about yourself. I am a validation junky and for validation junkies this is really hard. I've been practicing a form of self-parenting to try to attain this which has been surprisingly helpful. I imagine how I would think of me if I were my own dad, which draws in some of my paternal love for my children toward myself. The good things I do seem brighter and I give myself more grace for the things I am still working on. My parents remain strongly TBM so this helps fill the gap where I know that they cannot fully appreciate apostate me.
These are all good, but I see you are finding them not quite enough. So, look for the triggers. What specific things set off the overwhelming feelings? These might be things like her saying something that makes you feel like a failure, or things she expects from a “good husband”.

To do this you probably need to slow the whole conversation down. Start by narrowing the subject. The smaller the problem you are dealing with, the easier it is to control the conversation. Start off by stating that conversations about church get out of control, and the feelings get overwhelming, so get her to agree to one topic. Then stick to that topic. For example, if you want to stop being all the Mormon things the church expects, don’t start there. Narrow it to one item. OK, garments. Now arrow it some more. Sleeping in garments. Then discuss what if you were to stop wearing them to bed. Keep it hypothetical. Just explore what that change would mean to her.

Second big rule. No dirty fighting. Dirty fighting is an “alas” concept only and so I am not sure if you will find it expressed this way anywhere else. But I got the idea somewhere, so it sent totally original but I had a list of dirty fighting techniques. These are things that guarantee that if you use them, it will g from a discussion into a fight.

I had a nice handout, that I of course threw all of them out when I quit and then knew I would never do social work again because it was making me sick, quite literally. Too much stress, and the body rebels and you get sick.

But I will try to remember enough to give you an idea.

kitchen sinking is when you bring other things into the argument, everything including the kitchen sink. So, it sounds like this… and another thing…. And besides that…. And while we are discussing…. So, more and more stuff gets brought into the argument. The idea is to overwhelm your opponent with all their faults, so they know they are to blame.

Army boots. This one is the old, “your mother wears army boots.” It is basically any insult no matter how related it is to the current problem. So, name calling or insults insults. The idea is to side track your opponent by making them angry. This way they know they are at fault because they are just rotten to the core.

Generalizations. You always…. Or you never….. the object with generalization is to make them the bad guy and being unwilling to give them any credit.

Escalation. Any Thing the partner brings up, you do one more. Sounds like “you forgot to take out the garbage.” Met by, “well you forgot to do laundry.” Met with, “you haven’t even been home.” With accusations going back and forth, with each one getting angrier and angrier.

Now, those of you who have studied logic recognize the army boots as an ad hominem attack. And all of them probably have fancy names, but fancy debate names are not as much fun. These may or may not be logical inconsistencies in your argument. The main point of them isn’t faulty logic, so much as the way it derails that discussion and sends it off on a tangent, or shuts the other person up. You will learn to recongnize dirty fighting techniques because they disrupt, derail, side track, or in anyway cause the conversation to go no where.

So, after you decide you need a time out. And time out was something we taught couples in battering situations. But after the time out analyze the conversation and see if one of you did or said something that got the conversation off the subject, or just caused an angry reaction, and see f you can pin point where the conversation went from a discussion to solve a problem and became a fight. If one of you regularly does this it might be a dirty fighting technique.

To neutralize a dirty fighting technique, you call it out as unfair. Example, last weeks argument should not get brought into this weeks discussion. So, you just calmly say, “that is not today’s subject.” And go back to solving the current issue. Even if all you can do is say, “unfair. I need a time out.” Then it at least stops any escalating.

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Re: Communication skills

Post by Mayan_Elephant » Wed Feb 07, 2024 7:11 am

How does dirty not-fighting fit into that? I would rather be brawling on wooden walkways of Deadwood than dealing with those submissive "can't decide, you decide, your way is good" folks. And those folks that think that ANY contention is evil and a threat, oh boy. It is its own form of extreme control and passive aggressions. Eff that. :oops: :oops: :oops:

I am not really angry, but you get the point, right? Passive aggression is still aggression and control, and extreme submission is also a form of control.
“Not ripe in spring, no standing by summer, Laches by fall, and moot by winter.”

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Re: Communication skills

Post by Mayan_Elephant » Wed Feb 07, 2024 7:16 am

The kitchen sink is all the awful stuff in the perimeter coming in force.

Image
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Re: Communication skills

Post by Angel » Thu Feb 08, 2024 9:15 pm

alas wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:40 pm
I have been thinking about what to tell Angel about not trusting feelings. This is really quite common in the mental health world. The cure for it depends on the reason for it. Some people take it so far they stop having feelings and become kind of like Mr. Spock. They operate as much as possible from just logic. And you know what, it isn’t really a bad way to live. It is a big improvement over the idiots who operate strictly from emotion.

But it does have limits. Stuffing your feelings too much can reach the point of too many feelings kept too tightly inside and the person goes postal. But I really don’t think Angel is doing that.

But, yes, I did it. I was very intellectual about everything. When my oldest was expecting her first child, she was unsure if I was even excited. I was just being too logical about it all. So, yeah, sometimes you can come across as weird. Most people err on the their side of things and their life is ruled too much by emotion. Nobody really likes Mr. Spock.

But, my suspicion is that Angel was too much of an emotion person, and is now over compensating the other direction by not trusting emotions. When one feels betrayed by emotion, they can want to avoid that kind of betrayal ever again. I saw it clinically with wives who had trusted and married an abuser, or women who had been raped by someone they trusted. They no longer trusted their own judgement about who to trust.

Now, Angel is a bit different because she trusted an institution, and the institution betrayed that trust. So, it won’t be her judgement about who to go on a date with, or who to marry, but is going to be broader. It wasn’t one person, but a whole community.

Now, I would guess, Angel, that you don’t want to go back to the trusting person you were before, especially about your kids. So, in a big way, you see your reaction now as sensible and safer. Others may see it as a problem, especially those in the community you no longer trust. They expect you to trust them and refuse to see themselves as the problem. Don’t trust them.

So, with my date rape victims, we worked on “red flags” of when to trust your gut that was saying “don’t trust this guy.” If you are going to get into an elevator, and three drunk (pick your racial or ethnic group) men get on, and you feel nervous, respect it and don’t worry about them feeling it was you being racist. If you are nervous about trusting, respect your feelings. Who the hell cares if you are acting paranoid? You have a right to be paranoid.

Most often, women override their feelings of distrust because our society demands too much blind trust. We are taught to kiss the creepy guy Mom calls grandpa, and taught to override our own feelings. We are taught to say yes to any boy who asks us to dance and avoid our own feelings that we don’t like the guy and giving him one dance only falsely encourages him. We are taught to ignore our own feelings and feel what somebody TELLS us to feel.

So, as far as going too far in not trusting humans, you go girl! Learn that your feelings are important and nobody should tell you how you are supposed to feel.

This really ties into church here because growing up in the church we get told that the warm feeling we feel at girls camp (really the warmth of friendship) means the church is true. No it doesn’t. It means you feel happy and don’t let anyone tell you that happy feeling means something it doesn’t.

But we grow up getting told that the emotion we feel in testimony means a specific thing, about the church, not just the meeting. We are told to trust “priesthood” above our own feelings. We are told that the warm feeling when we pray about the BoM means it is true. Rather than being allowed to decide for ourselves what the feeling means. That is a boundary violation. Big time. Somebody is telling us how we feel, when we are the only ones who should get to decide how we feel. But we grow up with that constant boundary violation. Other people telling us how we feel, how we should feel, and how would they know how or why we feel? They don’t. They lie to you and tell you they know more about your feelings than you do.

So, right now, the best thing you can do is to refuse to let anybody tell you how to feel.

Once you get good at refusing to let somebody else tell you how you feel, you will start to learn what your feelings really mean. If that takes distrusting your feelings and operating on logic, then you go girl. That s exactly what you should do.

Because when it comes down to it, our feelings should match the real logical world.

Now, often we can be aware of things on an emotional level before we see the logic that goes with them. Like the kid who doesn’t want to kiss grandpa. His feelings do have logic, if the idiot parents look. The kid doesn’t know grandpa like mom does. The kid needs more time. The kid needs to have his fear of strangers respected. Grandpa isn’t a stranger to mom, but is still a stranger to the kid, and the kid needs his real feelings respected. Now, if mom never lies to him about who to trust, the kid will learn to look at mom for an indication of if the person is safe. But if mom pushes, the the kid doesn’t learn to trust *mom* enough to trust who mom trusts.

But as women especially we are taught that being “nice” is more important than feeling safe, by parents who force us to kiss grandpa. And in the church we are taught to believe what theirs tell us about our feelings. These bad boundary lessons need to be UNLEARNED first, before we learn to trust our feelings again. We need to learn by looking at the logic of the situation and seeing that our feelings can match.

So, is there logic to not getting on the elevator with three drunk guys? No matter their race or ethnicity. But we do tend to trust others like us. So, after you learn to hear your feelings say, “I am nervous about getting on the elevator with these guys!” And respect your own feelings by not getting on the elevator, THEN you can start to ask yourself, if they looked like me, would I still be nervous? If they weren’t drunk, would I still be nervous? Then you can operate from both the emotion and the logic. And then you can see it is three guys, drunk guys, enclosed elevator, that makes you nervous, not necessarily their race. But first you have to learn to know and trust your emotions by stopping the old habit of feeling what someone told you that you felt.

It took me a long time, years even, and that’s OK. It takes whatever it takes. So, first thing to learn is that you don’t have to feel how anyone tells you. You do that by putting logic as “the truth” and for as long as it takes, you ignore feelings. Then, gradually, you learn to check your feelings against the logic. Then gradually, you learn how to trust your own feelings again. And you keep a good healthy balance between logic and emotion, not relying on only one or the other.
"Nobody really likes Mr. Spock.", what? I just googled "do people like spock" and maybe Google is just feeding me what I want to hear, but there are plenty of people out there who like 🖖 spock.

Live long and prosper :)

alas, you are quite a talented psychologist. I get to be surrounded by my own nerdy bunch haha, we've both found our tribes and happy fulfilling places it seems. Diving into feelings to you is like analysis of art, or listening to music - I imagine hearing someone say "ignore your feelings" is akin to someone saying "don't listen to music" for you?

While your music is feelin the feels, my music is finding peace, calm, serenity. Music can be beautiful, but silence is golden too.

Love all you guys, good thoughtful ppl here.
“You have learned something...That always feels at first as if you have lost something.” George Bernard Shaw
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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alas
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Re: Communication skills

Post by alas » Fri Feb 09, 2024 3:42 pm

Angel wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2024 9:15 pm
alas wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2024 4:40 pm
I have been thinking about what to tell Angel about not trusting feelings. This is really quite common in the mental health world. The cure for it depends on the reason for it. Some people take it so far they stop having feelings and become kind of like Mr. Spock. They operate as much as possible from just logic. And you know what, it isn’t really a bad way to live. It is a big improvement over the idiots who operate strictly from emotion.

But it does have limits. Stuffing your feelings too much can reach the point of too many feelings kept too tightly inside and the person goes postal. But I really don’t think Angel is doing that.

But, yes, I did it. I was very intellectual about everything. When my oldest was expecting her first child, she was unsure if I was even excited. I was just being too logical about it all. So, yeah, sometimes you can come across as weird. Most people err on the their side of things and their life is ruled too much by emotion. Nobody really likes Mr. Spock.

But, my suspicion is that Angel was too much of an emotion person, and is now over compensating the other direction by not trusting emotions. When one feels betrayed by emotion, they can want to avoid that kind of betrayal ever again. I saw it clinically with wives who had trusted and married an abuser, or women who had been raped by someone they trusted. They no longer trusted their own judgement about who to trust.

Now, Angel is a bit different because she trusted an institution, and the institution betrayed that trust. So, it won’t be her judgement about who to go on a date with, or who to marry, but is going to be broader. It wasn’t one person, but a whole community.

Now, I would guess, Angel, that you don’t want to go back to the trusting person you were before, especially about your kids. So, in a big way, you see your reaction now as sensible and safer. Others may see it as a problem, especially those in the community you no longer trust. They expect you to trust them and refuse to see themselves as the problem. Don’t trust them.

So, with my date rape victims, we worked on “red flags” of when to trust your gut that was saying “don’t trust this guy.” If you are going to get into an elevator, and three drunk (pick your racial or ethnic group) men get on, and you feel nervous, respect it and don’t worry about them feeling it was you being racist. If you are nervous about trusting, respect your feelings. Who the hell cares if you are acting paranoid? You have a right to be paranoid.

Most often, women override their feelings of distrust because our society demands too much blind trust. We are taught to kiss the creepy guy Mom calls grandpa, and taught to override our own feelings. We are taught to say yes to any boy who asks us to dance and avoid our own feelings that we don’t like the guy and giving him one dance only falsely encourages him. We are taught to ignore our own feelings and feel what somebody TELLS us to feel.

So, as far as going too far in not trusting humans, you go girl! Learn that your feelings are important and nobody should tell you how you are supposed to feel.

This really ties into church here because growing up in the church we get told that the warm feeling we feel at girls camp (really the warmth of friendship) means the church is true. No it doesn’t. It means you feel happy and don’t let anyone tell you that happy feeling means something it doesn’t.

But we grow up getting told that the emotion we feel in testimony means a specific thing, about the church, not just the meeting. We are told to trust “priesthood” above our own feelings. We are told that the warm feeling when we pray about the BoM means it is true. Rather than being allowed to decide for ourselves what the feeling means. That is a boundary violation. Big time. Somebody is telling us how we feel, when we are the only ones who should get to decide how we feel. But we grow up with that constant boundary violation. Other people telling us how we feel, how we should feel, and how would they know how or why we feel? They don’t. They lie to you and tell you they know more about your feelings than you do.

So, right now, the best thing you can do is to refuse to let anybody tell you how to feel.

Once you get good at refusing to let somebody else tell you how you feel, you will start to learn what your feelings really mean. If that takes distrusting your feelings and operating on logic, then you go girl. That s exactly what you should do.

Because when it comes down to it, our feelings should match the real logical world.

Now, often we can be aware of things on an emotional level before we see the logic that goes with them. Like the kid who doesn’t want to kiss grandpa. His feelings do have logic, if the idiot parents look. The kid doesn’t know grandpa like mom does. The kid needs more time. The kid needs to have his fear of strangers respected. Grandpa isn’t a stranger to mom, but is still a stranger to the kid, and the kid needs his real feelings respected. Now, if mom never lies to him about who to trust, the kid will learn to look at mom for an indication of if the person is safe. But if mom pushes, the the kid doesn’t learn to trust *mom* enough to trust who mom trusts.

But as women especially we are taught that being “nice” is more important than feeling safe, by parents who force us to kiss grandpa. And in the church we are taught to believe what theirs tell us about our feelings. These bad boundary lessons need to be UNLEARNED first, before we learn to trust our feelings again. We need to learn by looking at the logic of the situation and seeing that our feelings can match.

So, is there logic to not getting on the elevator with three drunk guys? No matter their race or ethnicity. But we do tend to trust others like us. So, after you learn to hear your feelings say, “I am nervous about getting on the elevator with these guys!” And respect your own feelings by not getting on the elevator, THEN you can start to ask yourself, if they looked like me, would I still be nervous? If they weren’t drunk, would I still be nervous? Then you can operate from both the emotion and the logic. And then you can see it is three guys, drunk guys, enclosed elevator, that makes you nervous, not necessarily their race. But first you have to learn to know and trust your emotions by stopping the old habit of feeling what someone told you that you felt.

It took me a long time, years even, and that’s OK. It takes whatever it takes. So, first thing to learn is that you don’t have to feel how anyone tells you. You do that by putting logic as “the truth” and for as long as it takes, you ignore feelings. Then, gradually, you learn to check your feelings against the logic. Then gradually, you learn how to trust your own feelings again. And you keep a good healthy balance between logic and emotion, not relying on only one or the other.
"Nobody really likes Mr. Spock.", what? I just googled "do people like spock" and maybe Google is just feeding me what I want to hear, but there are plenty of people out there who like 🖖 spock.

Live long and prosper :)

alas, you are quite a talented psychologist. I get to be surrounded by my own nerdy bunch haha, we've both found our tribes and happy fulfilling places it seems. Diving into feelings to you is like analysis of art, or listening to music - I imagine hearing someone say "ignore your feelings" is akin to someone saying "don't listen to music" for you?

While your music is feelin the feels, my music is finding peace, calm, serenity. Music can be beautiful, but silence is golden too.

Love all you guys, good thoughtful ppl here.
It took me a while to be able to transition from not being willing to feel anything, to be able to start to feel things. For example, I was about 4 years into therapy, when I was discussing something and I threw a throw pillow across the room, into the couch. My therapist practically got up and danced an Irish jig, he was so happy. He says with this extreme delight, “that was anger! You felt some anger.” I was kind of irritated with him over his reaction, because one is not supposed to be joyful about another person’s anger, when that anger is because of abuse. So, he backs up and tells me it is the first time he has seen the least bit of anger, or um, or any emotion. It was a therapeutic break through as far as he was concerned, the first sign of anything but intellectual discussions, like as if I was a lab specimen being dissected by my scientific self.

But you are probably more likely overwhelmed by feeling too much for the past few year. The feelings become deafening and you want to just turn down the volume or have some silence for a while. So, you do what you need to do.

I have a theory that we all know what we need, and we go after it. A therapist’s job is to see if you are going about something in self destructive ways, and help you find more constructive ways. Not ever to tell you what you need. Well, unless it’s meds. I have told people that I think they need medication. So, if you are seeking peace, emotional peace, then that is what you need. I don’t think you have stopped feeling, which that can be unhealthy. What you are doing sounds like trying to escape from too much, too strong of emotion.

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Re: Communication skills

Post by alas » Fri Feb 09, 2024 4:56 pm

So, back to communications.

There are other dirty fighting techniques, and Mayan is correct to name passive aggressive. Women are probably best at passive aggressive. You have all see the jokes going around about what your wife means when she says, “go right ahead and do what you want.”

As the guy in Star Wars says, “It’s a trap.”

She doesn’t mean you have her *blessing* to do what you want. She means if you make the wrong choice, you are dead meat. This is the dirty fighting technique named after Arnold Schwartzenager’s famous movie line, so it is called, “make my day!” She is passively aggressively daring you to do it.

Passive aggressive acts or words are bombs that are left for you to step on. Later.

In my therapy with battered women, I didn’t deal with passive aggression as much because their battering husbands were not passively aggressive, they were quite openly aggressive. So, yeah, this whole category kind of slipped my mind in going over dirty fighting techniques.

While many dirty fighting techniques are meant to escalate things right then, passive aggressive are meant to lull you into feeling safe, thus the passive part of it. But really it is a bomb meant to blow up on you later.

You see this a lot with church callings. The passive aggressive (PA) say, “Yes, I’ll sub in your Sunday school class.” When they have no intention of showing up to teach. The idea is to make it sound good right now, to avoid conflict right now, but leave the victim up a creek with no paddle. People regularly accept callings or assignments rather than saying “no”. But they have no intention of doing a thing. The victim of the passive aggressive attack finds out later that they were lied to.

So, the wife says, just to end the argument, “you’re right! of course!” But says it in *that* tone of voice. Small alarms go off in hubby’s head, because she didn’t sound like she was convinced. She sounded pissed. This is a passive aggressive attempt to keep the hubby up all night, worrying, and sweating over the argument. Maybe it gives her time to plot revenge but most likely, it just leaves him confused, and that is her revenge.

Passive aggressive cuts off communication. But it doesn’t solve the problem. Maybe instead of a dirty fighting technique, it is a dishonest fighting technique. Because it avoids open confrontation by refusing to be honest.

What is best is assertive. Not submissive, aggressive, or passive aggressive.

Assertive is stating your own needs in a direct way, requesting change in a direct way, or saying directly that you can’t or won’t do as the other person is requesting.


So, most of the time when a couple keep having the same argument over and over, it is because some dirty fighting is going on. But something is sabotaging the conversation. Whether it is going off on tangents, escalation from discussion to argument, or cutting off the communication.

There’s another dirty fighting technique, and I’m not remembering my name for it, but it is ambushing the other when they have too much else going on to have the discussion. Bringing something up while getting ready for work, or right at bedtime when you are too tired. When this happens, you simply agree to a set time to discuss, when both are able to talk.

So, fair fighting rule #1. you schedule the talk. In doing this you give the subject. “I need to go over the budget with you. When’s a good time?” Or, “I would like to talk about something that came up in church today. Can we do that after the kids are in bed?”

Rule #2. You introduce things in a way so as not to make your partner immediately defensive. Not, “how the hell could you just ignore me all evening.” or, “You make me so angry I want to break things.” Use “I statements.” I statements is when you make it about your reaction to their behavior rather than blaming them for your feelings. This lowers your partner’s need to get defensive. So, “I feel ________ when you _______.” For example, “I feel left out when you and your friends only talk about church.” It might be that you are feeling, “how the hell could you ignore me all evening by only talking about church and never once finding a topic I could share.” But by using the “I statement” you take responsibility for your feelings and bring up the trigger for your feelings.


I will try to come back for more rules of fair fighting later tonight, but maybe not till tomorrow night.

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Re: Communication skills

Post by Mayan_Elephant » Fri Feb 09, 2024 7:56 pm

alas wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2024 4:56 pm

What is best is assertive. Not submissive, aggressive, or passive aggressive.
We must strive to be assertive. You are correct. Agree agree agree.

Submission is also extreme. It is extreme like aggression, but different. The healthy and centered form of submission is to surrender. Now, surrender does not mean to give up. It does not mean to lose or quit. It means - here are the facts, let's roll with that. I can't advise anyone, particularly a victim of violence. My point here is if the facts say "you are in an abusive situation," you can surrender to that fact and deal. This is not the same as submitting to the aggressor or violence.

In communication, sticking to facts can prevent a whole lot of not-communication. Learning to embrace reality, to surrender, gets the communication moving more better.
“Not ripe in spring, no standing by summer, Laches by fall, and moot by winter.”

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Re: Communication skills

Post by alas » Sun Feb 11, 2024 4:56 pm

Rule #2 I statements.

I am going to break this up a little differently, into 3 parts. Above I only mentioned 2 parts, then had an interruption and didn’t get back, and yesterday I was essentially gone all day. But “I statements” have two necessary parts and one optional but very helpful part.

A The first part is how you feel, taking responsibility for that emotion. So, “I feel _______”

B is the trigger, the specific behavior that triggered the emotion, so, “when you _______”

C. Is your thinking. Optional, because sometimes we don’t catch what we tell ourselves, we just react to the trigger. “Because I think_______”

So, putting it all into one statement, “I feel left out when you and your friends spend most of the time talking about the church, because I think you like them better because I am not good enough for you now that I don’t believe.”

Now, the exact wording doesn’t matter, it could be “I get angry when you and your friends talk about nothing but church because I am afraid you like them better now that I have left the church.

The important parts are taking responsibility for emotions. If you are confused about what you feel, or don’t want to share the emotion, or don’t want to go there for what ever, then just stay general, maybe go with “I don’t like” and then name the trigger and what you thought. So, I don’t like that you and your friends only talk about church because I think you like them better now that I don’t believe.” Just be careful not to accuse them of actually doing what you thought their behavior meant. So, do not jump to “you don’t love me anymore.” That skips the whole “I statement and makes a fact out of what is more likely your insecurity running amuck. Stay responsible for your own feelings and your own thinking, and keep in mind your conclusion based on the trigger combined with your own thinking.

By adding what the trigger caused you to think, the other person can tell you if your thinking is based in reality or not. And you can begging to look for the belief that made your brain go where it did. In this case, the belief may be something like Mormons don’t really love or respect anyone outside the church, and I am now outside, so she really doesn’t love me any more. So, when she “ignores” you by talking so much to her friends who are still believing members, that is your proof she doesn’t love you as much as she used to. And you are on the way to the reassurance you need, and maybe even a solution so it won’t happen in the future, say an agreement that if she is spending too much time on church subjects, you can, oh maybe kick her under the table. Or maybe better, that you can change the subject, and that she will go with the new subject and steer the conversation to things where you can participate in the conversation.

Now, most people are not self aware enough to give the whole part A, B, and C right at the beginning of the conversation. So, don’t expect it right away, but work towards figuring it out.

And with your partner, reflective listening can help more them towards the full I statement. So, as they are sobbing, “you don’t love me anymore.” You can reflect to them how (A) you hear they are feeling. Maybe ask questions, like, “what did I do to make you feel that way?” So, specifically ask for the trigger. “You left church after Sacrament meeting, then the baby threw up all over me, and as I was going to the lady’s room to clean me and the baby, the nursery leaders found me and said Johnny needs his diaper changed. So, I had all three of us to clean up.” So, now you have the trigger. With reflective listening, you might try guessing the emotion. Then see what she told herself about what the situation meant. Again, try reflective listening. What are you hearing about the situation that made her think you didn’t love her? “Sounds like you were feeling abandoned?” so why does you abandoning her mean you don’t love her? You didn’t cause both children to have messy issues at the same time, so how is it your fault? This should lead to what she thought about the situation. Maybe something to the effect that a loving husband is there to share parental duties, and you weren’t there, therefore you are not a loving husband. See the belief she has about a “loving husband” and how you were supposed to know there would be trouble. Like the belief that a loving husband knows what kind of gift, or the belief that a loving husband knows how she feels without being told. The belief that you should magically know she will need your help is irrational. But people believe all kinds of irrational and romantic crap. So, once she can see her own irrational expectation, then what might be a solution for next time. What can you or she do different? Perhaps she wants both children to be at church, and you really don’t want to be there all the time and think sacrament meeting is plenty of compromise. So, maybe just her changing the irrational part of her self talk will fix the problem.

Just knowing how “I statements” work can help guide the discussion to get all the information you need to solve the problem.

So, for people like I was who are all logic and don’t wish to do emotions, you don’t really even need to name the emotion. The upset is enough to find the trigger, then figure out if stopping the triggering behavior is enough, or if there might also be some crazy thinking or irrational self talk that also needs to be fixed. Staying in logical mode works, because most problems can be solved rationally. It is just that for many people, the emotion can overwhelm them and so first you recognize the emotion and get it under control.

For example, in a therapy session, the client might spend 40 minutes on getting their emotions out, then there is a quick recognition of the trigger, what they told themselves, and if their self talk is rational or not. Other people were more thinking kind of people, and didn’t spend as much time on emotions.

So, don’t feel pressured to come up with an emotion. “I didn’t like it when you left church.” Is enough of an “I statement.”

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