I had a reader and someone I had coached email me the other day with an interesting result to a shift in communication she tried with her husband.
Her husband was having an “I don’t want to say no” type of affair. This type of affair often is grounded in a sense of entitlement, a dose of narcissism, and an inherent incapability to be empathetic.
Here’s what she says:
What I tried one day-
I said, “I can put myself in your shoes, and I can understand why you yelled at me and called me filthy names after you were caught having an affair with —-.
If I had been sleeping around for 30 years, I would be really be pissed if you wanted to talk about it.”
“I probably would have screamed at you too, and called you all sorts of filthy names.”
“I would have been in enough pain already- from sleeping around, and would want you to just drop it and move on.”
“So, I can totally relate to your doing that.”
He went silent. And when he finally opened his mouth he said, “So, are you trying to tell me that you have been sleeping around?”
I said “No,” in a- bland -matter -of- fact tone.
Note his inability to “get” the underlying message she was sending.
He wouldn’t come close to acknowledging the pain or emptiness of his behaviors. He avoided that comment like the plague.
You must also know that this woman felt terribly wonderful about breaking out of her old patterns of relating to him. Instead of eliciting anger and withdrawal, he was at a loss for adequate words.
And, his response gave her insight into the depth of his entitlement (oh, oh, are you having an affair? Are you cheating on ME?) Her unsettling statements led him not to self reflection or awareness, but back to his old pattern, “What does this mean for ME?”
How can you radically alter your communication to elicit a different response?
How would you feel if you could do that… turn the table, so to speak?
What is it taking for you to break free from your old pains and patterns and experiment with different approaches?