You know those days when you feel like whatever you say gets spun around. You feel entirely misunderstood and confused. People seem to retract, get angry at you or shut down in response to what you're saying. Most likely you feel like you can't say anything 'right' and you assume that it's most likely best to not say anything at all. Can you relate?
Did you know that there is a way to get your point across - without getting angry, sad, feisty, defensive or accusative? A way that gets received, where the other one actually listens and cares?
Indeed, the outcome of a conversation doesn't so much depend on the person being talked to, but more so on the way the message initially gets phrased. Let me reiterate:
The outcome of a conversation depends on how you phrase your message, not so much on who listens. (this would be a click to tweet, if I had my tech stuff set up that much yet ;)
This is a huge point to come to terms with! How many times have you thought to yourself in anger or frustration "oh he/she/they just don't get it!", "he/she/they never listen!", "I feel so misunderstood!!"
Well, there is a simple way of 'packaging' what you want to say in a way that actually gets received... I'll explain to you how. It's called Non Violent Communication. It's a way to bring your point across that can be super effective in general conversations as well as for conflict resolution.
In a heated conversation or conflict, there is usually what I call a 'blame ball' getting thrown back and forth. For example, let's assume you've got a partner and he comes home and slams the door. You're feeling super tired after a big day and react angrily: "Don't slam the door!" Usually this results in a reaction that goes either into defensiveness ("No, I didn't!"), anger ("Don't yell at me!") or being shut down. And you don't get anywhere, as you know straight away already: The same scenario will happen all over again next time.
When we aim to communicate according to non blaming, non violent principles, there is no blame and there is no victim. This requires us to change our own mindset of being hard done by and taking our power back into our own hands. It means, taking responsibility for our own feelings, actions and experiences.
We need to learn communicating with the following 4 steps:
So going by the same example as before, this is how it could sound like instead:
After your partner slams the door, you could calmly say
1) "I heard you slam the door" (observation)
Note: there is no blame here which gives the other person the chance to listen
2) "I'm feeling very triggered right now as I had a huge day and I'm feeling tired and noise sensitive" (feeling)
Note: you are owning your emotion. There is no blame (ie "you made me") etc. This is of utmost importance.
3) "I'd like it much quieter in the house right now" (need)
You state what you would like instead
4) "Would you be willing to/open to close it quieter next time?" (request)
The answer is up to the other one, but you are giving them the chance to hear you and respond with their feelings, needs and requests.
That way, your partner might respond "Oh sure, I didn't realise it affects you that much!" which would be optimal, wouldn't it? But even if he said "No way, i had a big day too and i love slamming the door to release!", you have shared your need. All needs are equally valid. That means you could respond by saying "I hear your need here. Clearly we both have different ones here though. Let's find a different solution all together". This gives you both the chance to come up with ideas and suggestions and both can feel heard and valued.
Non violent communication is a way out. A way out of your own head that might go nuts otherwise. It's a way out of shutting down and feeling all 'poor me'. It's a way out of feeling stuck between someone else's needs and wishes and your own ones. It's a way to mediate without giving up your own power or dignity and without making the other party loose theirs.
The outcomes are surprising and very powerful. I myself have used it many times over very successfully. I still remember how funny and kind of awkward it felt, using the 4 steps for the very first time. But like with every new habit, it took only a few goes, and it became second nature.
If you feel unsure of how to apply this to your own situation, and you'd like some assistance, let me know. Relationship counselling and conflict resolution - be it inner or outer - are an intrinsic part of my work and sessions. This is due to the fact that once you start releasing those inner blocks and fears of communicating your feelings and needs, you start becoming more and more aligned, clear and empowered. And this is how I believe people are destined to feel.
Comment below: Which step do you find the hardest when it comes to applying the above? Is it pin pointing the moment when to apply it? Is it naming your actual emotion that your feeling? Is it staying calm? I'd love to hear from you!