Get your point across without shoving it down their throat

By Ashlee SecordWHE Flyer

The following blog is a taste of what I will be speaking on  at the women’s health event, How to Make 2014 the Best Year Ever! on February 8 from 9:00 am to 11:00 am at the Chart House in Lakeville. For more information on this event and registration go to www.lakevillefitwomen.com!

I frequently use this Aesop fable in my Clear Communication workshop and my Confident Women workshop:

THE WIND and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger You begin.” So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on

I love this fable and its use of weather to demonstrate strength. It encourages warmth over force, strategy over power. It is stories like this one that I deem “therapy gold” because it creates something palatable to sink our teeth into instead of theory or feelings.

This fable comes up a lot in therapy sessions when communication is being addressed. Note communication is typically addressed in therapy when the trend of conversation continually heads south, when there is more arguing than conversing. We begin to change the way we communicate when we feel as though WHAT we are communicating is not being heard, received or understood by the person we’re attempting to communicate with. To connect this to the fable, the message the sun and wind are trying to communicate is, “take off your coat.” Then we see how the sun and wind go about communicating that message: through force and through invitation.

Force

What do you do when you can’t get a bolt loose? When your foot is stuck? When a door won’t budge? When you have to slam on your breaks? When you don’t get what you want?

We push, pull, lean in, honk and scream harder. In our frustration we attempt to do what we intended with force when our initial efforts fail. Sometimes we are successful when adding additional force but usually (in my experience, at least) end up in a worse off position than we were originally. Or, in the winds case, the added force has the exact opposite effect of the desired result. The more the wind attempts to force the coat off the man, the tighter the man holds onto it.

I’m sure you can relate:

-Trying to make your kid put their coat on before going outside

-Yelling at your partner after they share something honest and vulnerable   only to have them withdraw further

-Withdrawing sexual intimacy in an attempt to get emotional intimacy or vice versa.

Force comes into play as a reaction to our original plan going awry, when we have no plan b.

Invitation

How do you respond to an invitation to a dinner party from a close friend? When someone invites you to go to a sporting event? What is your reaction to someone who is calm, warm and inclusive? When you see someone having fun, laughing or sharing a funny story? Do you walk past or do you get your ear closer?

From the fable, the sun does a few things that I think are worth noting. First, he knows his strengths. It does not involve blowing over trees or creating twisters. He is bright and hot. He uses his strength to get the message, “take off your coat” across. Without force he is able to remove the coat by allowing the man to do so on his own terms.

In addition to knowing his own strengths, he knew who he was communicating with. A man. Not a flower, a tree or a building. By know his own strengths and with whom he was communicating he was able to send the message effectively. Men don’t wear coats when they’re warm. I have heat. 1 + 1 = 2.

This translates beautifully into our relationships and encourages us to remember our strengths and the strengths of whom we are communicating with.

Is your wife exhausted when she gets home from work at night?

Does your partner need time to process what you’re asking before responding?

Does your child know your expectations of them?

Are you able to better express yourself through a letter or email?

What helps your partner relaxed and receptive to you?

Are you speaking gently or aggressively?

Setting the stage for communication doesn’t have to be an extravagant set up.

If you’re planning on asking questions listen to your tone and determine how you would respond to someone using that tone. When you get a response, remain curious versus judgmental. You’re allowed to think and feel however you’d like, allow other people the same liberty. Ultimately, communicate with others in a way that you would like to be addressed. Would you like to be forced to listen or invited?

 

Contact Thrive Therapy today to begin communicating more effectively in your relationships. Ashlee Secord, LMFT can help begin the process of understanding how we’re coming across and what can be altered to ensure our message is coming across in the most inviting way.

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