How do we keep from getting defensive or shutting down when others are reacting or acting badly? Some of us get embarrassed and feel the other person’s behavior is a direct reflection on us. We fear for our own reputation/credibility by association. Some of us feel fearful as if we are in danger and need to get a way from the situation and/ or the person’s negative energy. Some of us get angry and feel we need to convince the other person they are wrong to feel/react the way they are and that they need to change what they are doing. Unfortunately, none of these responses work or allow us to stay in our power.
When someone is acting in ways that don’t feel good to us, our instinct is to protect ourselves from the negativity by justifying, defending or explaining ourselves, or by ignoring, controlling or criticizing their behavior. These are the ways we have been taught to get others to stop reacting even though it rarely works. When we respond this way, we are buying into the other person’s negative story about what is going on, and the other person will end up feeling wrong about their own experience and reaction. Instead of looking for the other person to change their reaction, try starting with acknowledging how it is for them – what they are experiencing. One of the reasons they are behaving the way they are is because they don’t feel that what they want, or need has been fully seen or heard. By responding to them first with what you notice is happening for them, the other person can feel seen and heard by you without having to change anything. You don’t have to agree with them, you just need to acknowledge what you notice they are experiencing (feelings, facts, assumptions). Then they can calm down and listen to you – but not before. Once they feel seen and heard, they are ready to hear how things are for you – facts, assumptions and feelings – and any requests you have going forward that would feel better to you.
Lastly, it’s not their job to make you feel better – it’s yours. Once you have stated how it is for you, then let the other person know what you are doing to take care of yourself without making them or yourself wrong. This means you know what you will do to take care of yourself and are ready to stand behind it if your request is not honored. Ways to take care of yourself include changing the subject, ending a conversation, leaving the room, taking a break from the situation, and sometimes leaving the situation. Here are the steps:
- Acknowledge the other person’s experience (feelings, facts, assumptions).
- Acknowledge how it is for you.
- Make a request that feels better to you.
- Tell them what you are doing to take care of you and/or what to expect if they don’t honor your request (consequences).
- Take consistent action if they do not honor your request.
How will you acknowledge another’s experience today?
WANT TO EXPLORE HOW THIS WORKS IN YOUR LIFE?
GET THE WEEKLY EXPLORATION EXERCISE BY SIGNING UP HERE.
IT'S LIKE A HAVING A MINI-SESSION WITH ME, THE BELIEF COACH.