many times do we express ourselves saying things such as: I feel unnoticed by my manager/partner, I feel not appreciated by my boss/partner, you make me feel unhappy, my employees do not listen, my employees are unmotivated, my boss does not know what I am doing, I have to do everything, my (ex-)partner/manager makes my life horrible, etc ….
I think we all do or did on multiple occasions, at least when I remember my own communication, of course in the past ;-).
Anyhow this kind of communication is setting up a pathway to a clash, frustration and even less reward and less success or no success at all, so they are beautiful “suicidal techniques”.
Why is that? Because this kind of communcation has 3 major issues in it:
We do a judgement or diagnose of a situation without knowing if it is true.
We use the word feeling as a criteria for if facts are true or not.
We place the responsibility for our success outside ourselves and in the hands of other people.
A lot of people use “feelings or emotions” as indicators of “true or false”, and this is great if you do it for instance, to know if you had enough to eat or not. The question: Do I feel full/satisfied or not after a meal? Great indicator in this case and this is totally different from I feel unappreciated by X - I wonder where do you feel that, and if you feel it always or just on specific moments. How do you know if that feeling is really representing the criteria of the observable behaviour of being appreciated?-.
Another issue here is also that we use the word “feel” and then add a verb to it that does not represent an emotion or feeling.
When we feel unnoticed by our partner, boss…. , “unnoticed” is not a feeling neither an emotion, it is an verb used as a noum. Furthermore it can happen that we feel happy with being unnoticed and it could happen that sometimes we could feel frustrated by this, so when when we say: “I feel unnoticed.” It actually gives more a judgement about someone else’s behaviour than describing our feelings..
As Marshall Rossenberg explains in Non violent communication, to avoid an unhealthy communication we should start expressing the observation instead of the interpretation.
Just chew for a moment on the difference between: “I feel neglected by you” and “you did not say anything about my new project/dress today”. What would you prefer most to hear if you had to hear it? Most people react on the first statement with a justification to defend themselves like: “I do not neglect you” and than the “fun” of the discussion/fight starts. It may sound so easy to do the second option, and maybe you heard all this before in a course and even knowing it whilst reading this. Still, I wonder…. how many times do we really communicate the observation instead of the interpretation?
Just a little sidestep. The root of feelings are our needs, behind every feeling there is a need of us. Obstruction to our needs are almost always the emotions: anger, sadness (depression) guilt and shame. Communication wise, we are educated/used to go to our head when we feel these emotions and do not express them but make judgements to others that they not fulfil our needs (when we feel anger) that they are not aware off and put moralistic judgements on ourselves in with the other emotions.
Last but not least, putting the control or responsibility of our success/actions/feelings outside ourselves - in psychology also called External Locus of Control- we make someone else responsible for our success/feelings is this is really a suicide for success.
It creates somewhere a helplessness to solutions/success because others are in charge and why do we do this? The “positive behind this” we put the blame for the negative results in others hands. Like Poncius Pilatus said: “I wash my hands in innocence” after he let the people vote who too crucify. That is why it is used to many times, just think of President Trump and how he blames everyone for the mess in the USA.
It amazes me every time to come aware how much we apply this program when I coach people in a business or therapy setting.
Most motivational speakers talk about this, “Take action” “Decide to be in charge of your life” “Take control of your life”, etc. They are right and what it is often forgotten is that the thought pattern or belief, and therefore behaviour, is taught and ingrained in us from early childhood so most people are not aware of doing it.
Imagine, if you had a mum who used feelings and guilt as a way to get her way you are educated from day 1 on this earth to do the same. An example? Have you ever heard sentences such as: “I feel hurt when you do not clean up your room” or “I feel rejected when you do not eat your food I made with love for you”. Do those situations sound familiar?
You maybe nowadays you can also hear things as “I feel sad when you do not call me/visit me, especially now when you dad passed away and I am all alone and your brother/sister also does not call me”.
The guilt is used to make you do things, and it works! Hence the reason why we “sometimes” also use it. The question is what is the impact we are creating with it…therefore, in what sense it works? Is using guilt or judgements a way to keep sustainable relationships?
These conditioning creates an external locus of control for most people. Following this example, we learned from our mum that we can make others responsible for our feelings and when we “cry” we can make others responsible for our feelings and actions.
So, what could be your new choice in communicating with others?
My invitation is that we all at least be aware of when we are using “feelings”, “guilt”, “judgements”, and take time to question ourselves, take responsibility of it and express it in another way. And if it happens, it happens, by the way, saying sorry also may work!.
Have a good week full of awareness and understanding of yourself an others!
Have fun with the journey.
PS And if you like to know more about this and learn other communication or life changing techniques, based on my experience, I created three unique trainings to make support you:
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