One of the most spectacularly misused tools for communication is the process known as ‘Telling Someone How I Feel’. It sounds simple enough, right? We think, ‘This is how I feel, and now I’m going to tell it to you’. But that’s not always what we end up doing. More often than not, we end up telling people what we THINK – of them – and we proffer it forth as our ‘feelings’.
Tip #1: Your opinions are NOT your feelings.
When you share your opinion under the guise of sharing how you FEEL….it usually doesn’t end well. The person on the receiving end of your opinion (your man, your friend, your mom) uuuuusually ends up feeling judged, labeled, and attacked – and the whole conversation completely tanks.
EXAMPLE: If you say to your boyfriend, “I feel that you are really obnoxious in restaurants,” – that’s an opinion. No – really – it is. That tells your boyfriend what you THINK of his behavior, but doesn’t bring him any closer to knowing YOU and how you FEEL.
If you say to him, “I feel embarrassed when you raise your voice to our waiter,” – THAT'S sharing how you feel. You feel embarrassed. And when you share your actual feelings, without labeling your boyfriend as obnoxious, your boyfriend is freed up to hear what you’re really trying to say. Because he does not have to defend himself from being called ‘obnoxious’.
He then has a choice to make, based on what you’ve shared. He can either choose to consider your feelings in the future and make an effort to speak nicely to the waiter….or he can choose not to. Which leads us to…..
Tip #2: You cannot dictate the outcome of your communication with anyone, nor can you control anyone else’s behavior.
Sooo frustrating, right? But it’s the truth. All you can do is say how you feel - and, if your boyfriend is a keeper, he will be willing to consider how you feel and make an effort to adjust his behavior. But you can't MAKE him change. Why not?? Because you are not the boss of him.
Let’s say you have a boyfriend who is chronically late. It ticks you off and you have had enough. You would like him to stop being late when he meets you.
Here’s where things tend to go screwy.
The tendency is to blast him when he finally shows up, and say something along the lines of this:
“Ya know – you’re always late when we have plans and I feel like it’s really inconsiderate! I’m always on time, and I just feel like it’s really rude that you’re not. You have to start being on time or else this isn't going to work out between us".
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