There was a slight (?!) pause between the last post and this one (OK ~ I regard 24 hours as slight…in posting time anyway.) However, I had a delay in getting an answer to what was wearing me out.
However, here is where I’m standing at the moment. Exactly how can someone be told what the bitter anger, resentments and “persecution” is doing to them and to those around. How can you show someone – who can not see the examples around them – that things can and should be different.
As I was searching for answers, I stumbled over the answer right in front of me. There is no use “telling” someone what their anger/bitterness/resentments are doing to themselves and/or others. Doing this could result in an enormous argument with denial and even more anger. Instead of helping, it creates more barriers to any change or epiphany to create a sense of what needs to be done.
I would love to say that this is the “WD method of handling people” and market it. However, it really is a combination of a number of ideas that I’ve heard/read/ripped off/been told over the years. In this problem, it involves two parts: 1) the I part and what I will call 2) the directed question part.
Often, when someone has a problem with another person, they tell them so by using a “you-statement,” for example, “you didn’t …..!” While the statement may be true, by phrasing it that way, the listener is likely to get defensive, and begin to argue. They might reply, “I couldn’t because the deadline was unreasonable!” or “You are always pestering me…..!”
Another approach to the same problem is using an “I-message:”
I felt angry because
I was feeling unimportant.
While this disguises a “you” statement, it allows the thoughts/feelings of the person to be expressed in a fairly non-threatening manner. Hopefully, it will cause the other person to think and not simply react. However, there has been some rethinking about these statements. (But wait ~ there’s more!) The point of the statement is to get the other person to see the problem from a different non-threatening point of view. However – there is a tendency for these statements to come across as stilted, childish and somewhat patronizing ~for adults anyway.
Situation 1: Mark is yelling at James because James changed the channel on the television from MTV to VH1. Mark is calling James names and telling him to turn it back or else Mark will pound him.
Traditional “I” message:
James says to Mark: “I feel angry when you call me names and yell at me and I want you to stop it.”
The above statement would warm the heart of almost any trainer/consultant over the last few years. What I think it would NOT do is change anything in the situation.
New “I” message:
James says to Mark: “Hey, Mark. Cool out, man. I’m starting to get angry. I don’t like it when people call me names and threaten me. I didn’t know that changing the channel was such a big deal. Can we work this out like friends?” (no doubt a sanitized version of the actual conversation)
(And as a bonus ~)
I thought these kind of statements were easy ~ I was given this example from the Ohio Commission of Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management. I would be interested in answers. Aside from the fact this brought up a huge set of memories (not so pleasant) that, frankly, surprised me.
Jerome is walking to his locker when an older student bumps into him and then begins yelling at Jerome about being stupid and clumsy.
Jerome say to the older student:
(ten bonus points if the end of the statement does NOT involve Jerome hitting the other student or both of them getting expelled/suspended.)
Now, the second part that could be used is (as I said) what I’m calling the “directed” question. These questions are somewhat probing and yet, non-threatening. These are more difficult to phrase. This is actually what I’ve begun to use with the problem I’m facing. I want SE to see for them self what their behavior is doing to them self and those around.
These type of questions take thought and some planning.
—more on this tomorrow (within 24 hours I promise!)