Questions have been pouring in lately so I’m going to dedicate the next months posts to answering them.
Here’s the latest question: When allowing others to express their frustrations/anger/venting, how do you avoid taking it personally? How do you avoid being a doormat? And also, what’s the difference between enabling their bad behavior vs allowing them to express themselves?
There are three questions within this one so I’ll break them down individually.
Q: When allowing others to express their frustrations/anger/venting how do you avoid taking it personally?
A: When you begin to practice Intentional Communication what you learn is that you are only responsible for your words, actions, reactions, how you’re using silence / facial expressions. The other person is only responsible for their words, actions, reactions, how they’re using silence / facial expressions. This means that what you have in common is the conversation itself. Once you see that your intention is to keep the conversation helpful and to keep the integrity of the conversation in-tact then you’re no longer attached or drawn in to what the other person is saying. You will notice what the sensation is in your body that you equate with taking something personally – and when you notice this feeling – you’ll acknowledge it – can even say silently to yourself – I’m taking this personally – and then put it on a shelf or let it go and come back to the present moment. Reminding yourself that the person in front of you is hurting, wanting to express themselves safely, feeling fearful or discomfort. Your role is to listen and move from I to we to keep the integrity of the conversation in-tact.
Q: How do you avoid being a doormat?
A: By knowing if what someone has said or done is something that you need to talk with them about. If someone has said something or done something that is keeping you in a constant state of suffering – meaning you can’t stop thinking about it – and more importantly that it’s affecting how you’re interacting with them (resorting to your default way of interacting) then you need to express what you’re feeling and specifically ask for what you need so the situation doesn’t happen again.
Q: What’s the difference between enabling their bad behavior vs allowing them to express themselves?
A: Enabling bad behavior means you’re interacting with it. You’re either agreeing with them, giving them options, sharing similar experiences, or you’re defending and explaining too much, not accepting what’s true. Allowing them to express themselves means you’re observing and witnessing their emotion – you’re listening to what they’re saying – seeing them as someone you care for and respect – you see they’re hurting and instead of interacting with it you say, “I see that you’re really upset right now. I’m here for you.” Or “You seem frustrated. I see that. How can I be helpful to you right now?”
Tell me below if you’ve been in some of the same situations above and how you think approaching them in this way could be helpful.by