You don't have to agree to be supportive
When your sister tells you what a jerk her partner is being and you say you agree, you're likely to get in trouble later when your sister and her partner have made up.
Collusion, aligning with someone against a "bad" other, is a costly strategy for showing support. When you notice you are tempted to collude, it's a good time to fall back on the basics of Nonviolent Communication.
Basic #1: You don't have to answer questions literally. In fact, answering a jackal* question just makes things worse. If you feel yourself squirming when someone asks you a question, there's a good chance you are being pulled into jackal land. Give yourself permission to take a breath and respond from your heart.
Basic #2: When people are expressing emotional pain they almost always want connection first.
Basic # 2: When you want to create connection you have two choices; honest expression or empathy.
If you choose honest expression, you leave out your opinions and labels. Instead you express your own feelings, needs, and request. Using the example above, it might sound something like this: "When I think about what happened, I feel frustrated and scared, because I care so much about you and want you to have your needs for consideration and respect met. Is there anything I can do to help?"
If you choose empathy, you take a guess at your sister's feelings and needs: "Sounds like that didn't meet your need for consideration?"
Just the other night someone asked me a collusion question, "Don't you think he's a difficult person?". I was surprised and at first avoided the trap by saying "I don't know." This bought me a few minutes to connect with this person's heart. I then made some empathy guesses. I'm not sure how much empathy she took in, but I do know I was happy to be able stay in my heart and my integrity.
This week see if can spot collusion in your own or other's conversation. Notice how your heart feels.
*Jackal is a term referring to any disconnecting thinking and language.
In a Mucky Conversation come back to Observation