#1 COMMUNICATION TIP TO AVOID ARGUMENTS
State feelings as feelings;
State opinions as opinions;
Only state facts as facts.
OTHERWISE, YOU MAY COME OFF AS JUDGMENTAL OR OFFENSIVE
(Snippet from Ch.5 – Pillars of Awesome Relationships)
“The husband kept saying, “You shouldn’t spend so much money. You spend too much money.”
These statements felt like ATTACKING, CONTROLING criticism to his wife. It struck a nerve!
When she felt attacked: she got defensive! She began justifying her spending habits.
To him, this felt like she discounted all of his arguments about why she shouldn’t spend so much money. He would get outraged! He felt like she didn’t care about their finances, when he worried so much.
Not surprisingly, the argument got pretty heated, pretty fast.
I asked him how he was feeling at the exact moment when he realized she had spent money the day before. “She spends too much money,” he replied.
I said that he had not expressed a feeling. He did a half eye roll and said, “I FEEL LIKE SHE SPENDS TOO MUCH MONEY.”
I said, “Thank you, Sir Smart Ass” and again pointed out that he had not expressed a feeling.
I offered: MAD, SAD, GLAD, or AFRAID.
I asked him to take a moment to TAKE A FEW BREATHS and CHECK-IN WITH HIS GUT. After he did this, he admitted, “I was scared.”
What followed was beautiful!
Once he quit trying to win the argument with his wife, he was able to get in touch with the real issue underneath their financial argument. He went on to say that when she spends money, he feels pressure to make more. His business is struggling due to a shift in his industry’s technology and he is scared that his business might fail. I asked him to make eye contact with his wife and tell her how scared he is.
He looked at her and made a sort of apologetic smile (which was all she really needed) and said, “I want you to be able to spend all the money you want. I don’t want you to even have to think about it. And right now, I am so scared that we are going to lose everything. I feel so much pressure to provide for us. I want to provide so much and I am scared our whole business is going to fail. When you spend money, I get mad because it feels like another reminder of how close to losing everything we are.” Then he continued, his voice softening even more, “It feels like just another one of my daily reminders that I am a failure.”
By sharing his feelings at a deeper level, the tone of the conversation shifted from argumentative to compassionate.
She immediately warmed up to him and moved to sit closer to him, and then she apologized for spending so much. She acknowledged that she had spent a lot of money that was not necessary and that she didn’t know he felt so much stress. The two had dropped into a place of close emotional connection, the intimacy was palpable, and I found myself smiling for them.”
-Pillars of Awesome Relationships
To learn how to make your relationship AWESOME, devour this fucking book!