Don’t just listen - you need to share your side of the story.
Orators Need Not Apply
Do not try to be eloquent or witty.
Do not try to persuade, impress, trick, outwit or convert anyone. It is to express what you see, why you see it that way, how you feel, and who you are.
You must believe what you express is worthy of expression - that your views are as important as anyone’s.
No More, But Not Less
Always remember: Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity - including you. Your views and feelings are as legitimate as anyone else’s.
There are risks in speaking, but sometimes silence is riskier.
Sometimes we just go through the motions, perhaps incompetently. Or we wait to speak until time runs out. If you act this way, ask yourself why you don’t feel entitled to speak.
Failure To Express Yourself Keeps You Out Of The Relationship
People do not want to have a relationship with those who do not share. To hide the bad, we often end up hiding all.
Feel Entitled, Feel Encouraged, But Don’t Feel Obligated
You are entitled to express yourself. But not obligated to. Expressing yourself can be difficult. If you do not, don’t beat yourself by saying “I should have said something”.
Speak The Heart of The Matter
Start With What Matters Most
“For me, what this is really about…”
“What I’m feeling is…”
“What is important to me is…”
We often speak about the important issues (facts), but what is really important is the underlying reasons. Why are you requesting something? Why do you need something?
Say What You Mean: Don’t Make Them Guess
Don’t Rely on Subtext
Don’t get your message across indirectly. Jokes, questions, side comments, body language are indirect.
An example: “You spend too much time on X”
“Is activity X so important you do it every week?”
Wishing the other person already knew there was a problem is a symptom. Why can’t he see it? Expecting them to is a fantasy.
Avoid Easing In
Don’t soften the message by using hints and leading questions. Doing it this way conveys:
- I have a view.
- This is too embarrassing to discuss directly.
- I’m not going to be straight with you.
This triggers anxiety and defensiveness.
State your thoughts straight out, but indicate interest in whether the other person sees it differently.
Don’t Make Your Story Simplistic. Use The “Me-Me-And”
State your feelings and concerns (including happy ones). Join with the and stance.
Telling Your Story With Clarity: Three Guidelines
1. Don’t Present Your Conclusions As The Truth
“Spanking children is just plain wrong.” vs “I believe spanking children is wrong” or “I’ve read studies that show…”
Words to avoid: Inappropriate, should, professional. They contain judgments.
All opinions are not equally valid. The book is not saying that. Just that you phrase it as an opinion.
3. Don’t Exaggerate With “Always” and “Never”: Give Room To Change
It is rarely true. Prevents change from the other person.
Instead, assume the other person is unaware. “When you say X, I feel Y. It sounds like an attack on my judgment and makes me feel incompetent.” Can’t hurt to follow up with a request.
Help Them Understand You
You need their help in understanding them. And so they need your help in understanding you.
Ask Them To Paraphrase Back
Ask them to repeat what you said in their words.
Ask How They See it Differently And Why
Your phrasing may not convince them. Ask how they see it differently. Better than “Does that make sense?” or “Wouldn’t you agree?” Both are asking how they see it the same. They then become reluctant to share their doubts.
“I suppose so” is a sign they don’t agree!