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Thinking About You, Thinking About Me

Posted on: October 30th, 2019

Ever make a decision that you felt made you happy, but might make others mad, and you did it anyway?  Say, send a text, made an accusation, or sent a “prickly ball” to someone just because you wanted a payback?  Ever say hurtful things to someone else without a second thought as to how that person may feel towards you afterward?  Ever not care about the consequences of those actions?  Ever argue with someone because they didn’t have the same viewpoint about a situation you were passionate about?  Ever “spin” the dialogue of another person to fit your own perspective?

Perspective-taking…Did you know no two people think exactly alike or see things the same exact way?  Maybe similarly sometimes, maybe not even close.  It happens all the time with teenagers, folks with autism, personality disorders, divorce situations, and among the many adults I see.  

Sometimes folks are so angry, so passionate, or so unwilling to allow others to have choices, that they are unwilling to see the view of any other lens, just their own.  Or they believe their opinion or viewpoint is the only correct one and become annoyed with others in their lives who challenge those opinions.  Or one person blames the other and fails to see their own contributions to an interaction that goes south.  It happens all the time.  The unfortunate situations are when children model the unhealthy interactions of what they see at home because they do not know anything else or split/side with one parent out of fear of the actions of the other parent.

To be an effective communicator takes work and effort.  It requires support and practice being assertive and making one’s needs known.  Human beings are all important and all have value.  We can all strive to be effective communicators.  

Here are some DBT tips to be more effective in not only in communicating, but also understanding the viewpoint of someone else.

  • Set up a goal for the interaction with the person you want to talk to 
  • Ask yourself what you want from the interaction and how you want to feel afterward?
  • Describe the situation you want to be addressed.
  • Express your emotions clearly.  Use I statements…. “I feel…”
  • Request what it is you want from the interaction
  • What does the other person need to hear in order to listen to you?
  • Stay mindful of your goal for the interaction
  • Act confidently (use a calm, neutral firm tone; eye-contact, etc)
  • Be willing to negotiate or compromise;  Or “Turn the tables” by saying, “what do you think we should do about this?”

If the relationship is important to you consider being:

  • Gentle
  • (act) interested
  • Validate feelings
  • Be easy-going (use humor if possible)
  • Stick to your values
  • Don’t apologize for having an opinion, even if it’s different
  • Above all, don’t argue, judge, criticize, make threats, or resort to intimidation tactics- this just adds fuel to the fire and will lead to problems.

Lastly, accept that if you are afraid to make your needs known or if you are the most effective person in the room, the environment may make it difficult to be effective.  It may not be an interaction that gets better.  You get to decide then whether working it out or moving on is the next step.  

Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes gives us a way to learn and understand the thoughts or actions of others.  It helps us to develop empathy and compassion.  Need support navigating relationships in your life?  Contact me at SHCS.