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This is one of a
articles in Lesson 2 - learn communication basics and seven
to get more daily needs met more often. Progress with this Lesson
depends on concurrent progress on Lesson 1 - free your resident
true Self to guide you in calm and conflictual times.
The unique guidebook
2nd ed., 2010) integrates the key and Lesson-2 Web articles and
resources in this nonprofit Web site, and provides many practical resources.
assumes you're familiar with
intro to this nonprofit
web site and he premises
you (a) use an
effective Bill of Personal Rights to guide your
behavior with other people, and you (b) respect their equal rights in
Do you usually meet these criteria with other people?
The article closes with the description of a safe two-person
exercise illustrating the silliness of verbal
Phrases and Questions
When powered by
a genuine (vs. dutiful or strategic) mutual-respect attitude, the questions and
phrases below can help raise communication
effectiveness. Experiment with them, note the results, and tailor them to
fit your personal style. For each of these you don't use now, notice what
you do (or don't) say - and what usually happens.
Sense the themes of these tools, and
develop your own. Brevity, focus, and comfortable eye contact help a lot.
So does having your
be in charge of your
Hilight, circle, or check
several of these that you want to experiment with. Then pick several more...
best for our marriage (or relationship) here?”
now, I need (specifically)... (from you)”
can’t hear you when…”
seems to help our resolution-process succeed is…”
really appreciate it when you... ”
getting distracted by _____. Could we stop, and resume this at
(some specific time and place”)?”
(not) feeling heard (vs. agreed with) by you now.”
you’re feeling... ”
I’ll do that.”
(don't) need you to help me with this now.”
I see (or feel) about our (conversation) process now is... ”
love you (for / because / when... )”
think we have a
values (or concrete, or communication) conflict
you (some recordable behavior), I..." (non-judgmentally describe the
specific effect on you) - "and I need (specifically) __________
now.” This is called an
"I" message. They help avoid the
listener feeling blamed or attacked.
Reality check:these will just be words until
you experience using them. To sense what's possible,
think of a recent conflict you had with and adult or child. Review the
phrases above and try saying
relevant ones out loud. Then imagine how the other person might respond. I'd be
surprised if you don't imagine the
outcome would change...
Another option: think of a person you often have trouble communicating
with. Review these common blocks and see if any apply. Then use one or more of the phrases above the next time you talk with this person. Note any difference
in the way (a) you feel, and (b) the way s/he responds. Another option is to
scan these sample responses to "problem
Notice what you're thinking now. If
your family members don’t use phrases and questions like these, what do
they use?The moral here is
how you express your needs and
opinions is at least as important as what you're communicating about.
The "I'm Right!" Exercise
there kids or adults in your
life with whom you "argue?"
Do each of you get focused
on "winning," getting "your
way," and/or "being right"?
In most cases, such contests
are lose-lose, because both
disrespected, unheard, and
frustrated. Better options
are win-win problem-solving,
or - in the case of *values*
conflicts - agreeing
respectfully to disagree.
Try this safe, powerful way
to illustrate the silliness
and futility of "I'm right!
No, I am!" battles:
Agree you have a power
struggle, without blame
Stand and face your
partner from about 12"
away. Each of you make
an "L" shape with your
right arm so your
forearms are vertical
Clasp your right hands
gently, and hold
comfortable eye contact.
One of you start by
saying with some
right." As you
do, rotate both your
arms leftward to
horizontal. Don't use
physical strength and
don't resist - this is
not a physical contest.
Do not smile.
With steady eye contact,
the second person says
rotates both your arms
rightward (clockwise) 180 degrees to
The first person says
"NO! I Am
rotates both arms
180 degrees to
Repeat this sequence
four or more times,
increasing the tone and
power of your voice and
the speed of
arm-rotation each time.
Keep steady eye contact,
and don't joke or grin.
See what you feel and
think, and discuss
this together as
you'll both wind up
exercise vividly illustrates
(vs. explains) the
pointlessness of arguing -
i.e. trying to persuade each
other "You're wrong and I'm
right!" A variation is to
say "I (did 'x'" and rotate)
and the other person says
"No, you didn't," and
rotates back) Try that for
6-8 times, and see what you
This exercise can be
specially helpful with
stubborn (insecure and/or
studying and applying Lessons
1 and 2, and watch for gratifying changes in your life!