Counselling Couples: Phil & Trish Part 3
Phil's Beginning to Succeed
Robert Davies © 2019
“Okay, Philip, as I said the next time we meet we would help you write up a better response to what Trish had first said. Sounds good?”
By the way, what was it again? What did you both say about the bed making?”
Trish had said …
“Don’t bother making the bed if you can’t do it right!”
Said nothing and walked away.
“Thanks, Philip. We are on Step Five now. You did great work. How about consequences? Did your statements and responses make the situation better or worse.”
This would be STEP FIVE.
“Well, for the consequences, it made things worse. I was now on the defensive with Trish criticizing me. Trish is often anxious about how her house looks to everyone in the family. Yet, I did not assert myself or reveal my feelings. This would perhaps cause Trish to not give up trying to better my performance in other things and maybe even upping the ante. In other words, she’d try even harder to get through to me with probably greater frustration, anxiety and what have you. After all, I did not use the EAR rule of empathy, assertiveness and respect. I didn’t respect her enough to explain how I felt or even ask her how she felt, for that matter.
This would be STEP SIX.
“Now, Philip, let’s try writing out a better response to what Trish said. This is what we are going to do. It is hard, very hard. It is a real challenge applying the Five Secrets of Effective Communication to one’s way of communicating. The trick is to take the time to write and re-write better responses and keep practicing. Remember, it is not a trick way of talking; it is a sincere overture. Our heart and mind must be into it.”
Five Secrets of Effective Communication
E = EMPATHY - You Acknowledge the Other’s Feelings
1. The Disarming Technique DT. Find some truth in what the other person is saying.
2a. Thought Empathy TE. Paraphrase the other person’s words.
2b. Feeling Empathy FE. Acknowledge how the other person is probably feeling, based on what she or he said.
3. Inquiry IN. Ask gentle, probing questions to learn more about how the other person is thinking and feeling.
A = ASSERTIVENESS - You express your own feelings.
4. “I Feel” Statements IF. Express you own ideas and feelings in a direct, tactful manner. Use “I feel” statements, such as “I feel upset,” rather than “you” statements, such as “You’re wrong!” or “You’re making me furious!”
R= RESPECT - Your attitude is respectful and caring.
5. Affirming AF or Stroking ST. Convey an attitude of respect, even if you feel frustrated or angry with the other person. Find something genuinely positive to say to the other person, even in the heat of battle.
“Okay, Bob, I agreed with what Trish had said for starters. That is the DT – the Disarming technique. This is what I wrote:
“You are right, Trish. I was in a hurry, and I didn’t take the time to do a good job. (DT)”
“Great, Phil. Try adding TE – the thought empathy. Use some of her own words.”
“Okay, here goes …
“You are right, Trish. (DT) I can’t do it right. (TE)”
“Good, now add what she might be feeling.”
“You are right, Trish. (DT) I can’t do it right (TE). I can only guess how frustrated you might be feeling and anxious, too. (FE)”
“Continue by applying an IF – an 'I feel statement'.
“You are right, Trish (DT). I can’t do it right (TE). I can only guess how frustrated you might be feeling and anxious, too. (FE) I am feeling frustrated and even discouraged about not doing a good job making the bed. (IF) You are so good at what you do around the house. Maybe, you could give me some pointers?” (ST)
“Doing great, Phil. You have the ‘I feel’ statement plus an affirming statement. Now add the inquiry IN to learn more about how the other person is thinking and feeling.”
“You are right, Trish. I can’t do it right (DT). I can only guess how frustrated you might be feeling and anxious, too. (FE) I, too, am feeling frustrated and even discouraged when I don’t do a good job on the bed. (IF) You are so good at what you do around the house. (ST) Maybe, you could give me some pointers on bed making? I would like to hear more about how you are feeling and thinking about my doing chores around the house. (IN) I sincerely want to help when I can, and I’m worried I am just making more work for you. What do you think?” (AS)
“Well, what do you think, Bob?”
“Well, Phil, lets look at the EAR model. E- Do you have empathy? A- Were you tactful and use I-Feel statements? Were you assertive? R- Did you convey caring?”
“Well, I tried to … I think I did.”
“Yes, I agree, Phil, you did a very good job. How does it feel to approach the situation in a different fashion?”
“Well, it works. I tried it this week with Trish. It was a little rough, but I am sure it stopped us from banging heads.”
“Philip, keep trying if the first attempt fails. It takes practice and courage. Write. Write. Write. Write before trying to speak it. It takes courage. Remember. You only become brave by being brave. So, become brave by practicing.”