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What's Wrong With "I Messages" #207455
02/14/12 07:22 PM
02/14/12 07:22 PM
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Fiddler Offline OP
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Quote:
For starters, I-messages are basically just dressed-up You-messages, and like You-messages, they connect my feelings with your behavior. Although they start with (or include) the word I, the statements carry the same energetic impact as messages of blame, ones which blatantly state, You (or your behaviors) make me feel As such, I-messages simply give us new language for manipulation and projecting. Even worse, they become a tool for self-victimization, as they present us as emotionally vulnerable to someones behavioral choices.

We also can get into trouble when we, like the man in my workshop, attempt to use I-messages to control or change someone. Simply stating feelings is one thing. But there is particular danger when we structure I-messages to suggest that the other persons behavior is responsible for our feelings, especially when the statements carry the implication that wed feel better if only the other person would act differently. Further, this approach is only likely to work if the other person is willing to take responsibility for our emotional state, and cares or feels guilty enough to change solely for its sake.

...many people who have been on the receiving end of an I-message report seeing this approach as extremely dishonest and manipulative. Several mentioned feeling more than a bit put-upon by having someone attempt to dump responsibility for their emotional well-being on them. And more than one individual shared that this approach actually had the opposite effect, creating resentment and alienation, rather than compassion and cooperation!

What's Wrong With "I Messages"?


"Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me."
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: Fiddler] #207470
02/14/12 07:56 PM
02/14/12 07:56 PM
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Quote:
But there is particular danger when we structure I-messages to suggest that the other persons behavior is responsible for our feelings, especially when the statements carry the implication that wed feel better if only the other person would act differently. Further, this approach is only likely to work if the other person is willing to take responsibility for our emotional state, and cares or feels guilty enough to change solely for its sake.


Great article. thumbsup


Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: Fiddler] #207506
02/14/12 09:06 PM
02/14/12 09:06 PM
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Very good points made. I would broaden it further, to say that any communication formula will fail when the underlying feelings and intentions don't match the words used. Having known many students of communication models, and having been one myself, I have seen this in action all too often.

The most useful concepts I have gleaned have been:

Listening with Giraffe Ears (Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication)
Quote:
The concept of Giraffe and Jackal ears is an important one.

If we are listening to others with our culturally trained "Jackal" ears, we hear complaints, criticisms and attacks everywhere. It's easy in that case to respond with similar attacks or to feel defensive or to just leave feeling miserable and misunderstood.

When we wear Giraffe ears however, we have a powerful technology available to us. Think of Giraffe ears as a sophistcated translating device. When we decide to put on Giraffe ears, all the criticisms, blames and attacks of others are translated into simply their feelings and unmet wants and needs.

When we wear Giraffe ears we hear their pain but we don't take it personally. We can have empathy and feel connected to a person when we hear only their feelings and needs. It's as if they already spoke perfect Giraffe themselves.

As Marshall says, "Criticism, complaints, judgements and attacks are all just tragic expressions of difficult feelings and unmet needs.

http://www.listeningway.com/cctutorial-1.html#Ears

and

Originally Posted By: Al Turtle
I dont know how to say this right, so let me say it wrong and then you and I can clean it up.


Both of these involve self-responsibility and the recognition that communication is a collaborative effort. The problem with communication formulas is that they can carry an element of control: "if I say it right, you will hear it right (or have the desired reaction)".


we: me44 + my husband Pookie :9: + S9 + D6
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: flowmom] #207515
02/14/12 09:27 PM
02/14/12 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted By: flo
Both of these involve self-responsibility and the recognition that communication is a collaborative effort. The problem with communication formulas is that they can carry an element of control: "if I say it right, you will hear it right (or have the desired reaction)".

I really like this. It's something I have been very very guilty of - continuing to push my message because I'm not getting the right reaction.

I liked how the article differentiated the offending behavior as the "trigger" for feeling rather than the "cause". I think I messages are probably a lot more powerful - and less likely to escalate a conflict - if one can dig down to the cause.

What I've read about emotionally-focused therapy (EFT) has been very eye-opening and useful, and it's helped me to take a step back sometimes when my emotions feel overwhelming to figure out what is really going on with me. That means I can communicate at a deeper level with whoever it is and maybe have a shot at actually fixing the problem.

Sure, you forgot to take out the trash and that made me angry. But is that anger really directed at today's forgetfulness...or is it because you feel your partner doesn't value your priorities in general...or something of that nature. This particular trigger is just a symptom of the underlying problem, and fixing the symptom may make no difference in the problem.

So instead of "I am angry that you didn't take out the trash" it's "I feel unimportant to you. That may not be how you actually feel, but it's my perception."

Then you need the other person to skip the defensive stage and engage with the issue.


Current spouse: Night. D10, D9, S7

About me

You can't direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.

http://www.divorcedmomfinances.com
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: CajunRose] #207566
02/14/12 10:42 PM
02/14/12 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted By: CajunRose
Sure, you forgot to take out the trash and that made me angry. But is that anger really directed at today's forgetfulness...or is it because you feel your partner doesn't value your priorities in general...or something of that nature. This particular trigger is just a symptom of the underlying problem, and fixing the symptom may make no difference in the problem.

So instead of "I am angry that you didn't take out the trash" it's "I feel unimportant to you. That may not be how you actually feel, but it's my perception."

Then you need the other person to skip the defensive stage and engage with the issue.


"Honey, you forgot to take out the trash. Would you please do that now?"

"Yes sweetheart, I did forget. I will do it now."

End of psychobabble.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Leave out the mind reading and feelings. Save the latter for cuddling on the couch later.

Cheers.



"A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving." - Ayn Rand
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: pookie69] #207648
02/15/12 02:56 AM
02/15/12 02:56 AM
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Quote:
"Honey, you forgot to take out the trash. Would you please do that now?"

"Yes sweetheart, I did forget. I will do it now."

End of psychobabble.


Well, I don't know that it actually would be the end of what you deride as "psychobabble." What about the fifteenth time of reminding someone of his/her own responsibility? When does the "Mommy reminder" end? See, I wouldn't do that on a regular basis. To quote Alanis Morissette, "I don't want to be your mother. I didn't carry you in my womb for 9 months."

Quote:

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Leave out the mind reading and feelings. Save the latter for cuddling on the couch later.


What if what you really mean is, "I don't believe I am important to you?" I'm missing any mind reading in one approach over the other, as your approach assumes that the reason the person didn't take out the trash is because he forgot. Maybe he didn't.


Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: AntigoneRisen] #207717
02/15/12 02:30 PM
02/15/12 02:30 PM
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The response in my marriage was always "I told you I'd do it. Stop nagging me." Followed by whatever task still not being done until I gave up and did it.

If someone genuinely forgot, then yeah, that would work. But too often this kind of thing is just a symptom of a larger power struggle.

Last edited by CajunRose; 02/15/12 02:31 PM.

Current spouse: Night. D10, D9, S7

About me

You can't direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.

http://www.divorcedmomfinances.com
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: pookie69] #207742
02/15/12 04:10 PM
02/15/12 04:10 PM
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Fiddler Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: flowmom
I would broaden it further, to say that any communication formula will fail when the underlying feelings and intentions don't match the words used.
This is a very important point - and any "formula" is likely to trigger reactions if it is perceived as such. "Don't use that stuff on me!" Attitude is the single most important element. There are structures that increase the likelihood of a reaction - in this context, using the word "you" in an accusatory manner. One of the points of the article is how the commonly taught "I message" is a disguised "you message." When there is an issue that is problematic, starting any sentence with the words "When you ... " has a very high likelihood of triggering immediate defensiveness from the other person. Not a good place to start addressing the issue.

Originally Posted By: flowmom
Both of these involve self-responsibility and the recognition that communication is a collaborative effort. The problem with communication formulas is that they can carry an element of control: "if I say it right, you will hear it right (or have the desired reaction)".
Any approach that requires both people to be on the same page is bound to prove ineffective in precisely the areas where effective communication is crucial. It is most effective to not have expectations of how the other person responds - indeed, it is best to be ready to listen to whatever the reaction or response is with "giraffe ears."

Originally Posted By: CajunRose
...continuing to push my message because I'm not getting the right reaction...
You're recognizing now that approach wasn't effective. After the first time something is brought up, if it is agreed to and the agreement is not met, then the issue is s different one, which may be what you are getting at. Continuing to address the original issue is not likely to get anywhere.

Originally Posted By: CajunRose
Sure, you forgot to take out the trash and that made me angry. But is that anger really directed at today's forgetfulness...or is it because you feel your partner doesn't value your priorities in general...or something of that nature. This particular trigger is just a symptom of the underlying problem, and fixing the symptom may make no difference in the problem.
My one quibble with this is that nothing can make a person feel anything. And it is a belief or a judgment that one's partner doesn't value one's priorities - I believe it is important to clearly distinguish between the two. In this case, I would say that the belief that your partner didn't value your wishes was a primary reason for the feeling of anger.

Originally Posted By: CajunRose
Then you need the other person to skip the defensive stage and engage with the issue.
At some point it is necessary for both partners to let go of reactivity and address the problem. What if the other person isn't at a place to do so? It's something only they can choose to do, not something that can be forced on them. And if they don't at that moment, then what is the next step? For me, it would be like what flowmom was talking about with the "giraffe ears."

Originally Posted By: pookie69
End of psychobabble.
I am confused as to what "psychobabble" is being referred to here. Was it something that the article talked about?

Originally Posted By: pookie69
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Leave out the mind reading and feelings. Save the latter for cuddling on the couch later.
So when you have difficult or painful feelings (such as anger, resentment, sadness, etc), your preferred way of sharing those is when engaged in physical affection? Maybe it is not clear that what is being discussed here is how to "say what you mean and mean what you say." Or is trying to do that in a different what is meant by "psychobabble"?


"Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me."
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: CajunRose] #207761
02/15/12 05:48 PM
02/15/12 05:48 PM
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flowmom Offline
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Originally Posted By: CajunRose
The response in my marriage was always "I told you I'd do it. Stop nagging me." Followed by whatever task still not being done until I gave up and did it.

If someone genuinely forgot, then yeah, that would work. But too often this kind of thing is just a symptom of a larger power struggle.
That was my experience too CR.

IMO, that is an example of when communication isn't the solution. If two people have an agreement, the agreement is being broken, and the breaker of the agreement is aware of breaking it and doesn't care about the consequences of that on the relationship - there is a big problem.

That was something that I learned through years of being in a crummy marriage - don't communicate about specifics when the person is not listening and doesn't care.


we: me44 + my husband Pookie :9: + S9 + D6
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: Fiddler] #207766
02/15/12 06:05 PM
02/15/12 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted By: Fiddler
My one quibble with this is that nothing can make a person feel anything. And it is a belief or a judgment that one's partner doesn't value one's priorities - I believe it is important to clearly distinguish between the two. In this case, I would say that the belief that your partner didn't value your wishes was a primary reason for the feeling of anger.
I agree with the above. My caution is that it is very important to be able to make the correct judgment about whether one's partner values one's wishes. If one's partner cares about one's wishes, there is communication that can and should occur...perhaps not focused on the trash. If one's partner does not care about one's wishes, then this is not a communication issue and no energy should be wasted on communicating about one's feelings, etc. "Listening with giraffe ears" should never mean attributing positive intentions and goodwill where they do not exist.

Originally Posted By: Fiddler
At some point it is necessary for both partners to let go of reactivity and address the problem. What if the other person isn't at a place to do so? It's something only they can choose to do, not something that can be forced on them. And if they don't at that moment, then what is the next step? For me, it would be like what flowmom was talking about with the "giraffe ears."
I have found it helpful to work on reducing my attachment to people reacting in the ways that I want and putting more focus on the outcome. I find this very hard. I tell myself "they are entitled to their reaction" - I have to do this with the children all the time. Allowing people to have their own reaction and being detached from their reaction contributes to my inner peace.

Originally Posted By: Fiddler
Originally Posted By: pookie69
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Leave out the mind reading and feelings. Save the latter for cuddling on the couch later.
So when you have difficult or painful feelings (such as anger, resentment, sadness, etc), your preferred way of sharing those is when engaged in physical affection? Maybe it is not clear that what is being discussed here is how to "say what you mean and mean what you say." Or is trying to do that in a different what is meant by "psychobabble"?
How I took Pookie's post was that he is suggesting that when we are talking about the trash, let's keep it to the trash. If feelings and one's own interpretations about the other person's thoughts/intentions/feelings are involved, that is best dealt with separately, when we can be present with one another, and in a connected mode.

That totally works for me smile


we: me44 + my husband Pookie :9: + S9 + D6
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: flowmom] #207771
02/15/12 06:22 PM
02/15/12 06:22 PM
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Thank you Flow.

You saved me a paraghraph of discussing feelings that taking out the carbage creates.



"A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving." - Ayn Rand
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: flowmom] #207849
02/15/12 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted By: flowmom
My caution is that it is very important to be able to make the correct judgment about whether one's partner values one's wishes. If one's partner cares about one's wishes, there is communication that can and should occur...perhaps not focused on the trash. If one's partner does not care about one's wishes, then this is not a communication issue and no energy should be wasted on communicating about one's feelings, etc. "Listening with giraffe ears" should never mean attributing positive intentions and goodwill where they do not exist.
I agree with this in theory - and the challenge is how does one discern whether the other person "values one's wishes" without communication? In a marriage, this other person is someone with whom a vow has been made to spend one's life with - why would anyone not attribute positive intentions and goodwill in such a person? In the simple trash scenario, for example, I can think of many instances where there are positive intentions and goodwill on both spouses part, and the trash still remains a problem. What I do see often times is the attributing of negative intentions, which becomes self-fulfilling. That is, if I approach the other person believing they wish me ill, I will likely cause that very thing - or, more precisely, trigger reactions that are then chalked up to yet more evidence that they have bad intentions.

Originally Posted By: flowmom
Allowing people to have their own reaction and being detached from their reaction contributes to my inner peace.
This is where validation comes in in a big way. By "detached," I would mean that I empathize and validate the feelings being expressed, while not taking it personally. That is, recognizing that what is going on is an expression of pain rather than blame.

Originally Posted By: flowmom
How I took Pookie's post was that he is suggesting that when we are talking about the trash, let's keep it to the trash. If feelings and one's own interpretations about the other person's thoughts/intentions/feelings are involved, that is best dealt with separately, when we can be present with one another, and in a connected mode.
Hmmm. I am having a difficult time seeing how you got all that from this:
Originally Posted By: pookie69
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Leave out the mind reading and feelings. Save the latter for cuddling on the couch later.
If that is indeed what was meant, then this is not exactly an example of "say what you mean." Gleaning all of that from the words that were written seems to me like ... well, mind-reading.

If a couple is mindful enough to be able to defer string negative feelings until some later time of closer connection, then it seems to me they are equally capable of dealing with them when they arise. I find it far more effective for validate the feelings on the spot rather than trying to wait until things are calm and connected. (This, btw, is why the therapist notion of a "time out" rarely is effective, since the one with strong feelings never is agreeable to that.) If one spouse exasperated because the trash wasn't taken out, then I believe it is most effective for the other spouse to validate their feelings first; once that is accomplished, they can move on to addressing the problem. If the spouse who is feeling nagged is the triggered one, then the other starts by validating them followed by addressing the problem. In other words, rather than deferring the feelings, I am suggesting that they be directly addressed and validated first. Again, a couple that is able to postpone to cuddling is perfectly capable of doing this instead. Recognizing that tastes may differ, I cannot think of a time when I wish to share feelings about the trash whilst cuddling my wife!

What I am suggesting is consistent with what was expressed as "save the latter" (and as explained by flowmom); that is, to not try to share feelings and manage conflict at the same time, as "I messages" tend to do. The "When you ... I feel ..." statements are, to me, exemplars of what not to do.


"Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me."
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: Fiddler] #207923
02/16/12 01:33 AM
02/16/12 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted By: Fiddler
Originally Posted By: pookie69
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Leave out the mind reading and feelings. Save the latter for cuddling on the couch later.
If that is indeed what was meant, then this is not exactly an example of "say what you mean." Gleaning all of that from the words that were written seems to me like ... well, mind-reading.


That is indeed what was meant. I am surprised that so very few words prompted "gleaning".

Originally Posted By: pookie69
"Honey, you forgot to take out the trash. Would you please do that now?"

"Yes sweetheart, I did forget. I will do it now."


Where is the mind reading? Example was given how to ask and how to respond. There is nothing to validate on the spot or later.

Originally Posted By: Fiddler
If a couple is mindful enough to be able to defer string negative feelings until some later time of closer connection, then it seems to me they are equally capable of dealing with them when they arise. I find it far more effective for validate the feelings on the spot rather than trying to wait until things are calm and connected. (This, btw, is why the therapist notion of a "time out" rarely is effective, since the one with strong feelings never is agreeable to that.) If one spouse exasperated because the trash wasn't taken out, then I believe it is most effective for the other spouse to validate their feelings first; once that is accomplished, they can move on to addressing the problem. If the spouse who is feeling nagged is the triggered one, then the other starts by validating them followed by addressing the problem. In other words, rather than deferring the feelings, I am suggesting that they be directly addressed and validated first. Again, a couple that is able to postpone to cuddling is perfectly capable of doing this instead. Recognizing that tastes may differ, I cannot think of a time when I wish to share feelings about the trash whilst cuddling my wife!

What I am suggesting is consistent with what was expressed as "save the latter" (and as explained by flowmom); that is, to not try to share feelings and manage conflict at the same time, as "I messages" tend to do. The "When you ... I feel ..." statements are, to me, exemplars of what not to do.


The above appears to be the solution to the totally different dynamic than what I attempted to illustrate in my few words.

If I follow this logic the trash would still be sitting in the house while the rest of the night will be spent validating feelings on the couch about what went wrong and why it still stinks around the kitchen.

I must have been lost in the wrong thread.

My apologies.




"A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving." - Ayn Rand
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: pookie69] #207965
02/16/12 03:40 AM
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Quote:
Where is the mind reading?


The stated assumption that the person forgot. You can't possibly know that for certain. It's a guess of what was (actually, was not) going through that person's mind.


Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: CajunRose] #207966
02/16/12 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted By: flowmom
IMO, that is an example of when communication isn't the solution. If two people have an agreement, the agreement is being broken, and the breaker of the agreement is aware of breaking it and doesn't care about the consequences of that on the relationship - there is a big problem.

That was something that I learned through years of being in a crummy marriage - don't communicate about specifics when the person is not listening and doesn't care.


Originally Posted By: CajunRose
If someone genuinely forgot, then yeah, that would work. But too often this kind of thing is just a symptom of a larger power struggle.


Indeed. No amount of explaining a problem with taking ownership of one's own responsibilities will work with someone steadfastly and knowingly refusing to do so.

I had this problem in my first marriage. I don't know that I'd call it a power struggle. I referred to it as a religious clash - he thought he was God and I disagreed. By that I mean it was an entitlement problem.

The first red flag that I didn't recognize was when his mom proudly told me that he did his own laundry. He lived with his parents at the time and was 22 years old. The sheer amount of dust (and I mean measurable in millimeters) in his bedroom should have told me something. *shrug* I was 23, if that's any excuse.

It is eventually one of the three reasons I chose to divorce.

As for his laundry, he would "forget." I would shrug and wash my own. He'd put his in the washer, but forget to put it in the dryer. I'd put the wet clothes in a laundry basket and go about my business. My boundary is that I refused to take responsibility for any part of cleaning his clothes. I had similar boundaries elsewhere.

There are few things less attractive to me - and less adult-like, what some have described in an adult male as "real man" - than a failure to take responsibility for cleaning up after oneself or expecting to be reminded of routine necessary home maintenance chores. It screams, "I'm a prepubescent!"

Seriously. Unattractive. If you are that forgetful, set a reminder on your computer or phone.

Oh, and FYI, my advice is to never marry someone - especially a man - who still lives with his/her parents. Just don't. You are likely in for a rude awakening when you see how he/she maintains a home - or a car - on his/her own.

When I don't pre-judge why someone did not do something, that also includes providing ready excuses for the behavior. I can't possibly know why it wasn't done. I can only inquire.


Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: AntigoneRisen] #207989
02/16/12 01:51 PM
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Quote:
I referred to it as a religious clash - he thought he was God and I disagreed.


Okay, I have officially had my loud laugh of the day now! smile smile

Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: herfuturesbright] #208038
02/16/12 04:52 PM
02/16/12 04:52 PM
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LadyGrey Offline
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A few months into his freshman year in college my older son texted me "Mom, I now understand the value of a made bed."

It was a wonderful parenting moment.


Bidden or not bidden God is present.
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: pookie69] #208203
02/16/12 08:44 PM
02/16/12 08:44 PM
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Fiddler Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: pookie69
Originally Posted By: Fiddler
Originally Posted By: pookie69
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Leave out the mind reading and feelings. Save the latter for cuddling on the couch later.
If that is indeed what was meant, then this is not exactly an example of "say what you mean." Gleaning all of that from the words that were written seems to me like ... well, mind-reading.


That is indeed what was meant. I am surprised that so very few words prompted "gleaning".
I read what was said and what was meant (as explained by flowmom) as being different; that is, what was said/written was not what was meant. "Gleaning" is often necessary because it is often the case that what was said and what was meant are different, especially when there are only a few words.

Originally Posted By: pookie69
"Honey, you forgot to take out the trash. Would you please do that now?"

"Yes sweetheart, I did forget. I will do it now."

Where is the mind reading? Example was given how to ask and how to respond. There is nothing to validate on the spot or later.
It always works better when one writes the dialogue for both people. In practice, it might not work out that way, as demonstrated in the original example. I agree, when things are comfortable as in your dialogue then there is little need for validation; when one person is reactive, then without validation the problem is likely to continue. Have you ever tried to cuddle with a woman who was still steaming over something that had happened earlier and not addressed?

Originally Posted By: pookie69
The above appears to be the solution to the totally different dynamic than what I attempted to illustrate in my few words.
The difficulty with "few words" is that they often lead to not saying what was meant, as was the case here. I'm not clear about what "dynamic" is being illustrated. In CajunRose's case, the response she heard was not "Yes sweetheart, I did forget. I will do it now." but "I told you I'd do it. Stop nagging me." How does your dynamic work with that response?

Originally Posted By: pookie69
If I follow this logic the trash would still be sitting in the house while the rest of the night will be spent validating feelings on the couch about what went wrong and why it still stinks around the kitchen.
This is a very interesting view of what validation looks like. From what I have observed, tt tends to go on and on under only a few circumstances. One is where there are indeed many long-standing, pent-up negative feelings, and it takes awhile to get through them. The other is when the person attempting to validate is not genuine in their efforts or is unskilled. Otherwise, it is extremely efficient and helps get to the root of the problems. What gives you the ideas that validation plays out in the way you describe here? Is that the way it happens when you validate someone? If not, then I am confused as to why this is how it is envisioned.

Originally Posted By: pookie69
I must have been lost in the wrong thread.
Huh?


"Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me."
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: AntigoneRisen] #208206
02/16/12 08:56 PM
02/16/12 08:56 PM
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Fiddler Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: AntigoneRisen
Indeed. No amount of explaining a problem with taking ownership of one's own responsibilities will work with someone steadfastly and knowingly refusing to do so.
I agree - and often it requires not so much "explaining" as getting to what the underlying cause is. If there is a perception that the other person is not being responsible, then that too is something that is best addressed.

Originally Posted By: AntigoneRisen
I had this problem in my first marriage. I don't know that I'd call it a power struggle. I referred to it as a religious clash - he thought he was God and I disagreed. By that I mean it was an entitlement problem.
laugh Reminds me of the line from The Ruling Class where Peter O'Toole, believes he is
God. When someone asked him how he came to realize that he replied "Because whenever I prayed, I found I was talking to myself!"

Originally Posted By: AntigoneRisen
When I don't pre-judge why someone did not do something, that also includes providing ready excuses for the behavior. I can't possibly know why it wasn't done. I can only inquire.
I like the not pre-judging part and the idea that only by inquiring and getting information can the reason be gotten to. I am not comfortable with "excuse," however. I do believe that everyone does (or does not do) something for a reason, and that reason "makes sense" to them (to use Al's term). The "inquiry" would then be directed at discovering their "sense." The challenge comes when one spouse gets triggered and is reactive. Often in those circumstances, inquiry can feel like an inquisition and lead to more reactivity.


"Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me."
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: Fiddler] #209558
02/21/12 01:48 AM
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Quote:
I am not comfortable with "excuse," however. I do believe that everyone does (or does not do) something for a reason, and that reason "makes sense" to them (to use Al's term). The "inquiry" would then be directed at discovering their "sense." The challenge comes when one spouse gets triggered and is reactive.


Point taken, and my meaning would have been better conveyed had I used the word "reason." I used the word "excuse," because if I were to say, "You forgot," I'd be the one making excuses for the behavior, not that the person who didn't do the chore would. I'd be making excuses, because - as I said - I can't possibly know the reason.


Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: AntigoneRisen] #210066
02/22/12 03:55 PM
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Fiddler Offline OP
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This is a great point as well - and emphasizes the fact that we can never know the reason for another's actions (or inactions) except as they tells us (and of course even then they may not be aware or may be disingenuous). I agree that making excuses or giving reasons for another's actions doesn't help at all.

Finding out why it was not done, in this case, is the key step to resolving the issue, at least in a post-honeymoon relationship. The standard "I message" structure ("When you ... I feel ... I want you to ...") is remarkably ineffective at addressing it.


"Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me."
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: Fiddler] #345666
04/28/14 02:16 AM
04/28/14 02:16 AM
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Blair Online
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Originally Posted By: Fiddler
Finding out why it was not done, in this case, is the key step to resolving the issue, at least in a post-honeymoon relationship. The standard "I message" structure ("When you ... I feel ... I want you to ...") is remarkably ineffective at addressing it.


I know this is an old thread. If I have posted on it incorrectly, please let me know. I find this thread highly relevant to my situation, and I appreciate everyone's ideas.

I seek to understand my spouse, and I am not going to assume anything. For example, I ask my spouse why he did or said something so that I can understand. I ask for clarification. But my spouse says that I am thinking that what he said didn't have any value simply by me asking for clarification. (However, I have never actually said this to him, and I haven't thought it either.) How can I get the explanation I need to understand without him assuming that I'm saying something I didn't say? How do we resolve/address something to understand the why?

Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: Blair] #345693
04/28/14 07:31 AM
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How about simply saying, in your calmest, most rational voice, "Really, I'm not trying to put you down. I'm trying to understand your thought process...how you came to do _____; why you said ______."

Then let him speak without interruption.

If he persists in defensiveness, give it up for the time being. Nothing good will come from pressing him.

Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: right here waiting] #345707
04/28/14 12:58 PM
04/28/14 12:58 PM
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Miranda Offline
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Blair, thanks for asking this. I have a husband who "hates to be questioned" as well, so any feed back you get on this will be illuminating to me too!

And welcome to Marriage Advocates, by the way!


When we open to this moment and don't judge it or try to change it, even when we're suffering and wish it were otherwise, we tap into the spaciousness of mind that allows us to move forward skillfully, with discernment and joy. -- Sharon Salzberg
Re: What's Wrong With "I Messages" [Re: Blair] #345752
04/28/14 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted By: Blair
I seek to understand my spouse, and I am not going to assume anything. For example, I ask my spouse why he did or said something so that I can understand. I ask for clarification. But my spouse says that I am thinking that what he said didn't have any value simply by me asking for clarification. (However, I have never actually said this to him, and I haven't thought it either.) How can I get the explanation I need to understand without him assuming that I'm saying something I didn't say? How do we resolve/address something to understand the why?
Welcome to Marriage Advocates Blair!

As the conversation on this thread illustrates, there are a number of different approaches and attitudes towards communication. I hope that you find something that proves effective in overcoming the challenges you are facing.

When your husband does something that you don't understand, you are confused by the reaction when you seek to know the reasons. You find it hard to understand why there is a defensive reaction when you had no intent to criticize or discount. It might help to know what specific words were used and what was said or done that you sought understanding.

Speaking generally, when the goal is to understand the other person, a so-called "I message" (even if one thought they were effective) is not an approach that gets closer to that goal. The objective of an "I message" is to convey information about oneself (that it is not particularly effective at doing this is beside the point), not to understand the other.

For the goal of understanding, the most popular approach is so-called "active listening." This is almost as ineffective as the "I message." What I advocate is something called "tracking," which appears to be largely unknown in the literature. The main difference is that (in face-to-face conversations) it actually works when practiced.

It has proven difficult to convey what tracking is about here on the forum, since the attitude and nonverbal cues are at least as important as the words themselves.

The response you alluded to suggests that he feels interrogated or criticized by being asked to explain. Since communication difficulties as the one described often have their roots in other issues, that would be a good place to start - that is, by validating his feelings about being questioned.


"Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me."
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