Lets imagine a person 'A' talking with a person 'B'. Conversations often follow an ABABAB pattern, in which A shares their perspective, and then B shares their perspective. Both people wait for the other person to finish so that they can say what is on their mind.
This results in very little listening and a lot of talking AT each other. It resembles two NPCs giving a prepared dialogue without actually listening to each other.
For example, in political discussion, as soon as someone gets to 20% of what they want to convey, the other person is already starting to form their next sentence to reply to the first person. There is no listening between both parties and there is no actual communication — just prepared statements.
Instead of following the ABABAB format, you follow AA'AA'AA' where A is their thoughts and you reply with A', a modified version of their thoughts. Not sharing your opinion immediately is one of the most effective way to communicate because communication is one person speaking and the other person reflecting back what they heard.
Reflectively listen, and validate the other person's statements.
Do not share your opinions, problem solve, or sympathize.
The best response is to reflect their feelings. This provides validation and conveys a mutual understanding. It increases your understanding of the other person's viewpoint and encourages them to listen to you when you speak later on.
When someone shares something that they are struggling with, you can use responses such as:
"It sounds like you hate dealing with that."
"It sounds like you are scared that no one will love you."
"It sounds like you are ashamed of doing that."
"It sounds like you are [insert feelings here]."
What do you think would be the best response?
Person 1: "I am a piece of crap and I have no value in life"
A) "No you are amazing, you are awesome, I love you"
B) "Sounds like you feel like you're worthless"
C) "I feel really worthless too"
Click Here for AnswerB
If you find yourself in a position where you need to get your point across effectively, you can use the following framework.
For example, if you are feeling frustrated when your parents bring up the job hunt, then
- Understand yourself by finding where the frustration comes from and why your parents bringing up job hunting bothers you.
- Start with their viewpoint by saying "I know you are concerned and that you love me." Then add on your feelings with "And at the same time, when you ask me that question, I feel ashamed because I have not made any progress."
- Check with them after every opinion that you give by asking them what they think about where you are coming from. If they are not following along, continue to listen to them and check again if they can follow along with how you feel.
Listening is especially important when trying to convince someone of something. Trying to prove that someone wrong is a horrible way of convincing them that you are right. In fact, the more evidence you have, the more you make someone feel defenseless and feel attacked. This is why the people that debate do not find the right answer, but rather try to convince the audience.
Instead, let go of your assumption that they are wrong and do your best to understand their perspective. This emotional mirroring is important especially when Dr K was working with patients that were drugged and disgruntled in the emergency room. You would assume that you should try to calm them down or leave, but that is actually the wrong decision because you are trying to convince and tell someone that their anger is wrong. Instead you argue back and match their emotional level, but also lower that anger and apologize, which usually causes the other person to lower their anger.
When you try to understand, you will find yourself searching for weaknesses in their argument and a chance to pounce on their argument like a debater. Instead, express confusion and ask for clarification, so they can think more intently of what they think and possibly see their own flaws in logic. You can even ask to repeat back to them their point of view, ask if you can share yours in a non judgemental way, and ask them their opinion about your perspective. Finally, remember to lay down your boundaries of what you are willing to accept because not everyone will change within a conversation.
To help loved ones with their unhealthy coping mechanisms, they first need to acknowledge that they have one. Without acknowledgment, they are far away from understanding their problem, and trying to convince them otherwise will be futile.
When people try to confront their loves ones about their unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as gaming, alcohol, drug use, etc. they start to question, suggest alternatives or solutions. This coupled with a lack of acknowledgement from the other party that they have a problem, makes people come off as confrontational. The person being questioned does not feel like they and their loved one are on the same team. Therefore, they become averse to changes.
For example, if a family member or a friend has a drinking problem because they are dealing with their divorce, and you ask them to stop drinking and go see a therapist, then they will probably tell you to screw off immediately and that they don't have a problem.
Giving solutions, suggestions, and reassurance is the most common way of responding to those that are suffering from depression, anxiety, or addiction. However, it is not the most helpful way to respond. Sadly, using these responses invalidates how the victim feels.
The following responses are very unlikely to help:
"You are gonna be [insert reassurance here]...”
"You should go [insert suggestion here]..."
"You have a problem with [insert problem here]..."
Instead of questioning them, make non-judgemental and neutral observations to see how they feel about the subject matter. Do they acknowledge it and want to talk about it?
In contrast to asking your loved one to stop drinking, say something non-judgemental. This is very neutral which lets the loved one express their feelings freely without having to defend themselves from a misjudgment.
For example, “Hey, sometimes I feel like you are drinking too much. Am I being too judgemental? What do you think about your drinking?“
The responses can be positive, where they acknowledge their coping mechanism and admit the need for support. The response can also be negative, where they do not acknowledge their vice at all.
Respond accordingly by either giving the support they request from you or do not continue discussing the subject. Leave room for both of you to discuss it in the future. Continue to be neutral so that they are okay with you bringing things up again.
"It sounds like you feel very strongly that your drinking is perfectly fine. I apologize for bringing it up. In the future, if I cannot shake the idea that it is a problem, can I bring it up again?”
When something comes up and you bring up the coping mechanism again in a neutral tone. They can express their feelings on the matter as you reflect to them the events neutrally, and see if they acknowledge their coping mechanism.
“A couple of weeks ago you got blackout drunk and you vomited over your sofa. It is hard for me to think that that is okay.”
In contrast do not ask “Do you think that drinking is a problem? Do you think you should be drinking less?” because this is casting judgment onto them.
Very few people are actually boring. If you find most interactions boring, think about how you talk to people and what responses you get from them. You might get boring answers because you ask boring questions or do not bother to understand who they are or what makes them interesting.
Small talk and social norms can be a waste of time, yet they also have value because a lot of people follow them and it helps to filter whether you want normal small talk or interesting interactions.
If you are bored or do not prefer social norms, drive the conversation somewhere else by asking interesting, noninvasive questions.
For example, asking about what they are excited about during this year may sound like small talk and it can lead to someone sarcastically saying “I’m one year closer to dying.” Interesting questions and engaging conversations like these allow people to show their unique thought process and experience of things.
Do not ask invasive questions like “what are your deepest darkest fears?” or "you come to this train often?” because it will just push people away, regardless of social norms.
Moreover, letting someone talk more gives you a higher probability of someone liking you, but understand that you can not MAKE someone like you. A majority of people tend to be narcissistic, and as a result, advice such as this one is for interactions with extroverts and narcissists. Sometimes people can be introverted, so you have to notice it and talk about yourself as well. Finally, do not make people talk about themselves by drilling them with questions. Let people talk about themselves.
People think that the world is designed for extroverts. However, introverts have to understand that this is not entirely true, and play to their strengths. If you are an introvert, do not try to be an extrovert. Extroversion is not better than introversion. They are just different ways of interacting with the world.
For example, when trying to compete for a promotion, people think that extroverts have an advantage because they are loud, seem confident, and can interact well with large groups of people. But introverts can be good at interacting with people in other ways such as smaller and intimate interactions. So introverts should focus on what they are good at rather than what they are not. Moreover, introversion is not the same as social anxiety.