How often do you have to convey something unpleasant to somebody else?
In my other life as a Social Worker during my 20’s, we were trained in the best way to deliver constructive feedback. Start with something positive, deliver the negative and then always end with something great. Awkward moments were made simple this way.
It was a tried and proven formula that for the most part, it worked really well. What about those moments in real life when you’re not somebody’s supervisor? When it’s not about the other person’s feelings but actually about honoring your own?
Speaking our truth can be trickier to navigate in circumstances when we make it about the other person’s response, instead of honoring our true needs. Awkward Moments Made Simple 101.
I wish someone had told me this piece of vital information many years ago when I embarked on a whirlwind journey across the world to meet 2 friends.
I would have made life infinitely more simple for myself had I been honest about my own needs instead of theirs. But I digress.
Make it about facts, not about emotions.
This means responding to facts instead of hissy fits. It also means suggesting another time to continue chatting and above all disassociating from the other person’s emotional vitriol.
Our responses to things indicate whether we are happy or unhappy in our current situations. Our strong emotions often take over our logic in moments of initial reaction.
Those moments are when we have a strong reaction often coupled with an agenda.. and are often the worst times to react.
Is it a recurring theme? Practice your response.
One of my kinesiology clients wanted to practice a rehearsed response that related back to her friend’s behaviour. She found it difficult to be supportive to her friend whose child had left a train wreck inside my client’s home.
So what IS the problem? The fact that her friend doesn’t discipline her child? The fact that my client didn’t speak up at the time? Actually through our kinesiology session, we discovered that she didn’t feel she had a right to be angry and upset.
Her solution? To meet her friend in an external environment. And if her friend invites herself over? My client now responds with “I’d really prefer a neutral environment. I respect the freedom you give Billy, but my home is my sanctuary and I’d like it to stay that way even when guests visit”
Boom. No judgment. No attack. No projection. A simple acceptance of the situation while honoring the truth that is part of her.
We are all valid – it’s ok if our values clash
See that pic on the right? What do you see? What does the person next to you see? We will often (if not always) have a different perception of the same situation. The key is how we respond to it. The main determing factor in a relationship is seeing if you respond to conflict in a complimentary manner.
So what if you don’t? Well really, that person has just done you a favor. By giving you an insight into their emotional response, they’ve given you an awareness into their personality – as well as an opportunity to see whether you want this person in your life. It’s like an investment opportunity – what kind of return do you want on your dividends – a friendship or ongoing drama?
Choose your time wisely.
So you have something you really want to say? Is now a good time? Will they hear you when they’re livid or emotionally charged? Probably not.
Will they hear you when they’re open to listening? Possibly more likely. The real question here is, are you willing to wait for the right time?
Assess how you want to respond
When someone is in a heightened emotional state, chances are, they’re not likely to see that another person’s point of view is valid.
I have an acquaintance that recently assured me she was fine with a scenario that involved us both. Mutual friends have informed me otherwise. My response?
I come back to what I want. For whatever reason, she wasn’t comfortable being honest with me when I addressed it with her. It’s her right to behave as she needs to.
I’d prefer to leave the door open for one day when she may want to talk to me about it, if ever she does.
Developing a Pause
There’s a famous quotation by Victor Frankl that you’ve probably read elsewhere. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.”
Thinking before you act is another way of saying it. That may seem impossible when you’ve had years of the amygdala being in control and acting as if what people think and say are attacks when they aren’t. “I just didn’t think” is a statement I often hear. Neurologically that may be true, because their amygdala is taking over.
There is a way of developing that pause, creating the pause and refining it. You do it through mindfulness. The more hours of meditation people have, the less active their amygdala’s are. (That means you are calmer and can think more clearly). What do you think?