The first question to ask yourself is - What is going on for you that triggers that disappointment or issue? Where does that feeling come from? As we dig deeper, finding what creates that feeling is the key. You may discover that your desires, needs and wants are not being met.
The next step is to take full responsibility for our response/emotions. The only one responsible for your feelings are YOU. There is a theory that if all of our emotional needs are met, we cannot stay in a state of emotional disarray. Is it crucial for you to connect deeply with what you are actually feeling when you are triggered or upset and not blame the other person for them. It is never about the story or the person, but what is underneath the story! When you discover what the emotion/unmet need is you can learn to express yourself in a way that can get those needs met.
When you are upset with someone, pause. Ask yourself, what am I feeling and what needs do I need met? It is important that no blame or shame is involved. It is important that the feelings are “clean” without any judgment of the person. People can meet you when they do not feel blamed, shamed or criticized. Here is a model below called The NonViolent Communication model by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D. that can create a harmonious communication dynamic to communicate effectively and get your needs met.
Nonviolent Communication model from the Salus Academy
1. Make a neutral observation: You came home late on Monday
Most of the time when something happens, we tend to immediately interpret or assign some meaning onto it. We then respond to the story we’ve made in our heads rather than to the actual facts. This is likely to trigger defensiveness and blame in the communication, which is rarely the best environment to address an issue. The first step of NVC is to simply state facts on the situation without meaning, interpretation or evaluation. It focuses on times and context only.
2. Expressing a feeling without any justification or interpretation
The next part is to share how we are feeling as a response to that situation. It is important to elicit once again the meaning we assign to our emotions such as feeling judged, feeling misunderstood and come back to the raw emotion instead: pain, sadness, anger etc.
We have a right to our feelings in as much as we don’t consciously choose to feel a certain way. This is an unconscious response to a trigger that simply indicates that one of our needs hasn’t been met. It is important to keep our expression of what we feel as clean as possible in a non-blaming way: I feel worried when you’re later than normal
3. Expressing needs
NVC theories are based on the fact that behind any negative emotions, there are unmet needs. The first step is therefore to identify those needs and then to express them in a clear and factual way. In the previous example, the spouse felt worried as their partner was late. The unmet need is likely to be reassurance so they could express it this way: I really need to know you’re safe.
4. Clear request
The final part of NVC, after expressing how we feel in response to an event and having identified what our unmet needs, is to clearly ask for what we want and need.
There’s a difference between requests and demands. A request implies respect for your partner’s free will. If they are unable to fulfill that request, that will be met with understanding and respect. Whereas a demand would imply we expect compliance to what’s being asked.
Could you please text me just to let me know what time you’ll be home?
Things to keep in mind and embody as you communicate -
It is important that you are open and can honor the person's feelings and needs and to not be attached to how they respond. We are not demanding. We are open to receiving or needs being met and also open to whatever the person is OK with as well. You are simply making a request. A great way to open up to finding the solutions is asking them - How can you help me with this? What do you need from me to help me? People will want to support you when they do not feel pushed or obligated. You will find that your partner/person may also have unmet needs that they can also address with the information above.
I invite you to both start a safe dialogue and be open to hearing each other with what I call “Big Safe Ears.” These ears are for deep attentive listening without interruption and are judgment free.
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