Get Out of Jail Free: Stop Being DefensiveWritten by Sharon Ellison
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They had best talk they'd had in years. It can seem like a miracle when we ask a question that is simply curious, when we don’t try to control answer. Sally said she and Marcus had best talk they’d had in years. But what if person doesn’t open up? What do we do then? Number Three: Giving Feedback—Be honest without blame: We can tell person what we are witnessing without trying to prove our point. Sally could say to Marcus, (1) “When I hear you say that you are fine, which usually means to me that someone is in a pretty good mood, and (2) (2) at same time I see you frowning and slumped in your chair, then (3) (3) it seems to me that you are upset, but don’t want to tell me why.” In one sentence, Sally has given Marcus information about what she thinks his words are saying, what she sees his body expressing that contradicts his words, and what her conclusion is about why he is acting that way. But she has not tried in any way to force him to admit to anything or to do anything differently. Number Four: Express your own thoughts, feelings and beliefs—Share your own vulnerability. Once person knows how we see situation, we can express our own reactions without being defensive. Sally might continue her statement to Marcus by saying: (4) “So I feel helpless, and it’s hard for me not to try to make you talk, but I don’t think that is good for either of us.” Number Five: Predictions (Limit Setting)—Create security by being predictable: We can tell other person ahead of time how we will respond to certain choices he or she might make. Sally can let Marcus know what she will do if he decides either to talk or not to talk. For example, she might say, (1) “If you decide to tell me what is going on, I would really like to talk to you about it. (2) If you don’t want to talk, then I’m going to go work in yard so I don’t get tempted to try to drag it out of you.” The Outcome: We simply gather information, give information, and provide security by letting person know how we are going to respond to certain choices he or she might make. Never do we try to control other person’s responses. Even if other person stays defensive, we can be more peaceful and we can communicate with integrity and clarity. We can set boundaries that keep us out of power struggle and strengthen our own self-esteem. The miracle is how often other person will drop her or his defenses and open up. After a decade of fighting when Marcus withdrew in silence, Sally’s single question dissolved his defenses and he was able to tell her about war going on inside of him that kept him from talking when he was upset. This article is based on book Taking War Out of Our Words by Sharon Ellison, available through your local bookstore or favorite online bookseller. Sharon Ellison, M.S. is an award winning speaker and international consultant.
Sharon Ellison, author of Taking the War Out of Our Words, has written a number of helpful articles for individuals seeking information on relationships, psychology, parenting and mental health. She is a founder of Ellison Communication Consultants, of Oakland, California, and an award-winning speaker and internationally recognized consultant. Please visit http://www.pndc.com
Learning From All Our RelationshipsWritten by Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
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Every interaction we have with others is a reflection of our beliefs about ourselves, and we have opportunity to learn from each difficult interaction. For example, if we believe we are inadequate, unlovable, not enough, or unimportant, we will tend to take personally others’ cold or judgmental behavior toward us. We may feel rejected and alone, and respond with anger, resentment, hurt or withdrawal. Our painful feelings and reactive behavior can alert us to fact that we need to explore our limiting beliefs about ourselves. If you know you are a caring and compassionate person, and your definition of your self-worth is based on who you are rather than on what you do, how you perform or how you look, then you will be much less likely to take other’s cold or judgmental behavior personally. You might respond with understanding, compassion or with gently removing yourself from situation, but you would not feel hurt by other’s behavior, nor would you get angry, resentful or withdrawn.
All our relationships and our reactions to them provide fertile ground for our personal and spiritual growth. If you are willing to notice all painful interactions and feelings - even to people with whom you are not involved, such as person who cut you off on freeway or clerk at market who was rude - you can learn much about your false beliefs about yourself and about what you can and cannot control. Your feelings such as anger at person who cut you off on freeway or resentment toward rude clerk are red flags that let you know it’s time to look within and explore beliefs that are causing your difficult feelings. When you recognize that your feelings are coming from your own beliefs rather than from other’s behavior, you are on road to personal responsibility and personal power that comes with that.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?", "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By My Kids?", "Healing Your Aloneness","Inner Bonding", and "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?" Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org