How often do you get ‘dead-faced’? You know, that shut-down look where the other person has deadened eyes and a locked jaw?
Often, this happens when we’re correcting someone, or telling them something they don’t want to hear–like the details of what they did wrong. Or, the details of our feelings about what they did wrong. No one’s face is going to look very lively in situations like that.
Here’s a way to avoid ‘dead face’.
It’s simple really.
The first step is not to spend a moment going over what you didn’t like: what the other person said/did/didn’t do –what’s the point of that? It’s all happened by now and is past tense and bringing it into the present just encourages the other person to feel bad or defensive and do the ‘dead face’ thing.
Just skip all that and leap into the second step: ask for what you want.
Here’s an example. Let’s say John has just spoken to you in a tone you don’t like.
You want to tell him not to speak to you like this. You want him to know how it MAKES you feel. Etc. etc. But don’t go there. It will not be helpful.
Here’s What To Do Instead:
Instead, just say, “I’d love it if you talked to me in a softer, kinder tone. That would make it easier for me to listen to you. Do you think you could do that?”
This does several things:
It creates a clear direction for the conversation.
It outlines a reward for the other person: in this case, it will enhance the possibility of being heard.
Implicitly, it shows you are in control of your feelings and will take care of them yourself.
It involves a clear, but positive invitation to act differently.
It sidesteps any blame or what I call ‘wrong-making’
Avoid Blaming At All Costs:
This last point is crucial because everyone and I mean everyone, has shame about being blamed. Our culture has done a dismal job of helping people take responsibility for their own feelings. It’s very difficult to create healthy conversations in such an environment. But when you learn to take responsibility and lead conversations where you want them to go, everything eases up. You start to feel in control.
In my new course, Inner Authority, Saying the Unsayable, I’ll be teaching dozens of language skills so you can stay calm and clear in even the most difficult conversations and get yourself heard.
Contact me and we can have a chat. firstname.lastname@example.org The Inner Authority, Saying the Unsayable course will start on Saturday, September 25th at 10:30 am EST and run for 6 weeks. It will be a very small group so there will be lots of time to practice and get proficient in being able to speak easily and often about things that are important to you, even to people you find intimidating.