“I feel like you should…” If this is how you’ve been talking about your feelings, it’s time to learn how to be more honest and effective.
It’s a bit like “I love you, but . . . ”
You’ve lost me at the “but”.
Sometimes, talking to people we love about things that matter is too hard to even get started. This is where emotions come in handy.
I’m bogging about emotions for two reasons.
- Learning to notice and name what you feel helps you figure out what you need;
- Learning to talk effectively about what you feel and need is key to great relationships.
Say you and your partner are both foodies. It’s what drew you together. You thought “We both adore cooking, it’s going to be fun!” But after a few months of Honeymoon best-behaviour (when neither of you spoke up for what you really wanted) you began to resent “cuisine compromise.” Neither one of you ever truly made a dish – it was all “What do you think – add the sherry or red wine vinegar?” You longed to have the kitchen to yourself to make a disaster or delicacy all on your own. You’re savvy enough to know you’re supposed to talk feelings and “I” statements so after one helpful tidbit too many you blurt out “I feel like you’re way controlling – I can make a potato salad for heaven’s sake.”
Great start – you’ve noticed a surge of anger and spoken up for something you want. You’ve let your feeling of “angry” identify your need for “kitchen autonomy.” Odds are your partner won’t take it that well though. You may have lost ‘em at “You’re way controlling.”
Here are 7 steps for speaking with your partner more effectively.
- Presume do-overs. Cut yourselves some slack for botched first ( second and third) attempts. It’s rare for couples to talk effectively to one another on the first go-around.
- Figure out what you feel. Check your cheat sheet, Parrott Emotions Tree 2001and/or read “I Feel So Bad!“
- Use your feelings to identify what you need. See this posting.
- Break the ice with something. “Wow – who knew I had such strong feelings about potato salad?”; “I was a toad in there – sorry! But I’ve figured out why I was all snappy. Are you open to hearing it?”
- Just talk through your process. Literally, lead them through what you’ve just done in steps 2 and 3. Tell them how you sleuthed out what you felt and maybe what you think you need.
- Get curious. What does your partner feel and need?
- Get creative When you both know what you each feel and need you can come together on the same team against the disconnection you both felt. Now you’ll feel more like collaborating together for some win-win solutions.
“Well, we want more independence, but to cook together some too. And new – so maybe a class or two? And guests – livens things up. What else do we want?”
And you’re off.
Watch for that shift from “I” and “You” statements to “We” statements.
This is key!