When You Want More Conversation
You have just shared about a difficult situation you experienced during the day. Your partner looks at you, not saying anything. “Well, what do you think?” you ask. Your partner answers, “I don’t know. What do you want me to say?”
You have a particularly mindful moment and are able to watch your jackal show instead of speak it. It might sound something like this:
“Can’t you just talk to me! All I want is a little conversation. Is that so hard?!”
The truth is that it is hard for many. Even more difficult is responding in the specific way that meets your need for connection and being heard in a given moment.
Part of creating supportive relationships in your life is taking responsibility for creating the listening you want. This means being conscious of your intention for sharing something with someone else. I often let my listener know what I am wanting before I share something. Below are some typical things I am looking for when I share and relevant questions I might ask my listener.
- Empathy / Understanding
o I want to share something that happened today and I am just looking for empathy. Are you up for listening?
o Can you tell me what you’re understanding from what I said?
o What are you hearing me say?
o For my own clarity, could you say back what you are getting?
I am having trouble identifying my feelings and needs. Could you make some guesses?
o I have a celebration. Want to hear it?
o Guess what?!
- Relatedness / Connection
o Have you experienced something like this before?
o Is this a common experience?
o What feelings and needs come up for you hearing that?
o How does this fit in the context of other things in my life?
o What else might be influencing me or the situation?
o Do you have any sense of where this other person was coming from?
- Reality check
o Does my thinking make sense?
o Am I missing something?
- Information / Advice
o Are there facts I need to know?
o What would be most skillful?
o What would you do in my shoes?
Any given conversation may contain allow of these or a dance among several. Remaining conscious of this dance helps create more fulfilling conversations.
Knowing your intention in sharing something and asking clearly for what you want back, not only increases the chances for your needs being met, it also helps the listener meet their need for contribution in a clear way.
Start this practice now by reflecting on the last three conversations you had with people around you. Name the intentions you had for each.
click here for a list of feelings and universal needs and an empathy guide. http://www.wiseheartpdx.org/resources.php