Ever wondered how to talk about being triggered and how to address upsets without ending up in a downward spiral with the other person?
Try out our “miraculous communication formula”!
The “miraculous communication formula” consists of the following five steps:
- Your observation
- Your feeling
- Your interpretation of the situation
- Your willingness to be wrong about your interpretation
- Your request for support in understanding the situation correctly and seeing the other one as innocent
Let’s jump straight to an example of how to apply the formula in your everyday life. Imagine a couple, John and Linda. They have two kids.
Linda is upset. The trigger is that when she comes home from work shortly before dinner time, she sees that John hasn’t prepared dinner although he had promised to do so.
Linda’s observation would be: “You haven’t made dinner!”
Her feeling in the situation might be: “I am upset!”, “I am angry!” or “I am frustrated!” while she interprets “You don’t support me!”.
To express her upset and reconnect with John in a loving way, she could start with expressing these three:“John, when I see that you haven’t made dinner although you said you would, I am angry and I interpret that you don’t support me!”
Then comes the miracle part, her willingness to be wrong about her interpretation and her request for support: “Well, that you don’t support me cannot be true, because I know you do and show it on many occasions. Yesterday, for example, you fixed my bike. Would you help me see what is really going on here?
Get it? 🙂
To help you understand better what Linda is saying, why this works and how to apply it yourself, let us look at the five steps in more detail:
1. The observation
In the observation you describe what you see, hear or perceive otherwise through your five physical senses. What is happening? Stay with the facts. Imagine you are a video camera recording the situation, what could be seen and heard on the tape?
Make sure not to mix up observation and interpretation and to stay neutral. “You haven’t made dinner” or “Dinner is not ready” is an observation, “I can’t rely on you to make dinner” is an interpretation. There is room for your interpretion in step number three.
2. The feeling
Describe what you feel when you perceive what is going on. Stay with words that express pure feelings, like “angry”, “sad”, “afraid”, “frustrated”, “stressed”, “under pressure” or “upset”. Be aware that words like “misunderstood”, “attacked”, or “not cared for” actually don’t refer to feelings, but rather to interpretations. To fully connect to what is going on inside of you and to help the other person feel you, it is important to stay with the feelings and leave away any interpretations at this point.
3. The interpretation
We are used to thinking that we are upset because of something that is happening or has happened or something someone has done. But in truth we are upset because of what meaning we give it, or, in other words, our interpretation of what has happened or what the other person has done.
If we change the interpretation of the situation, the upset disappears.
In our example, Linda interprets that John doesn’t support her. Other common interpretations are “You don’t appreciate me”, “You don’t love me” or “You are attacking me”.
4. The willingness to see it differently
This is the turning point of the conversation, and the step that goes beyond what you have probably read about other communications models. The thing is: If you stop after step number three, the other person will still most likely get the impression of being blamed or attacked and strike back instead of helping you. But help is what you need and want right now, isn’t it?
The trick is to question the interpretation you have made in the step before and to actively look for proof that your interpretation might me wrong.
In the beginning though, when you are triggered and upset, this will feel like bullshitting yourself and like sacrificing yourself. The reason for this is your identification with the interpretation. So giving up the interpretation feels a little bit like dying. But this is not the case, as you will see. Right here, just do it anyway. Speak the words, even if you feel heavy resistance and are totally convinced to be right in your judgment!
All you need is a little willingness, an openness to another possibility that your blaming and guilt-assigning mind is offering you through its negative interpretation.
Let’s say for example that your interpretation is “You don’t love me”. Then add something like “…but that can’t be, because….” and see if you can even find proof.
The whole sentence would be like this: “I interpret that you don’t love me, but that can’t be, because you tell me every day that you love me, and you gave me a special treat for my birthday last month.”
Can you feel how your upset is already shifting?
By the way, if you can’t find any proof for being loved, then be transparent about: “I am having a hard time finding proof that you love me.”
5. Request for support
At this point, ask the other person what was really going on. We often interpret an action as against us that in truth had nothing to do with us or was a desperate attempt of the other person to take care of himself.
In our example of John and Linda John might have been busy tending to a crying child and just didn’t get round to dinner. Or something else happened. But most likely he did not think “Today I won’t support Linda and I want to upset her. I will not make dinner even though I said I would.”
You will get the other person’s support because of your willingness to see them as innocent, as taking care of themselves and not as attacking you.
All of us hate being blamed and being assigned guilt to. It makes us defensive and wanting to strike back. Yet, at the same time, this is what society teaches us. We are blaming and judging addicts! We haven’t learnt to speak about our feelings and needs any other way. No surprise that blaming and judging others is our first, knee-jerk reaction.
It takes time and conscious effort to overcome it, but you can do it, and you will do it, because you will love it as soon as you find out how much your relationships benefit from it. 🙂
Here are some examples which words to use in step number five:
“I want to stop blaming you for how I feel. Can you help me see that you didn’t mean this against me? What was really going on for you?”
“Can you help me see that you were doing the best you could?”
“Can you help me see again that you are a wonderful person and I love you?”
Please let us know how this is working for you. Shoot us an email or simply leave a comment below.
I can’t wait to hear about the exciting changes you are going to experience!
P.S.: If you like this article, then please share it in order to bring about a worldwide communication revolution. I truly appreciate! Thank you! 🙂