‘You Feel’ statements represent my latest foray into the world of ultra simple language tools to improve relating. First, I want to give you instructions, since I know you might feel rushed. That way, at the very least, you can survive.
Reflecting with ‘You Feel’ Statements
0. Take a personal inventory and get brutally honest with yourself. Do you feel able to set aside your own emotions and concerns to devote yourself to reflection? If not, do not proceed.
1. Get ready to reflect the speaker, look for emotional cues, and collect the content of their message.
2. If you can determine their emotion, say “You feel [emotion]” then pause.
3. If they say “yes,” and nothing else, congrats!
Anything besides a ‘clean’ yes, and you need to start fresh at #1.
Okay, that should cover the basics. As they say “Seconds to learn, a lifetime to master.” Now, let’s take a moment to look at a few nuances of ‘You Feel’ statements, and answer some common questions.
Why you want a ‘clean’ yes ONLY
A ‘clean’ yes from the speaker tells you something critical, that no other response can give you. Not maybe, not perhaps, not kinda, or any slew of other half-hearten acknowledgements (i.e. yeah, so, I guess, etc, etc.) A clean yes tells you that your reflection matches 100% with the reported feelings. Even if you can’t remember a single thing they said, get the emotions correct, and go from there. The emotions regard the most critical part, and the most often overlooked. This seems especially import in volatile situations to avert further misunderstandings which can pour gas on fire.
If they say “yeah,” for example then simply follow up with, “You feel reluctant, about my response.” When you 100% accurately report the feelings of someone, they’ll say ‘Yes’ and often express relief or gratitude. I reflect people to vent stagnant emotions and restore enthusiasm, and so can you. Don’t forget to take small breaks if you start to feel drained. We remain dreadfully understaffed in the Skilled Listening Department here on Earth. 99.9% of all communication goes in one direction only. Now, get outta my way!
Move! I gotta get home and do absolutely nothing! -Nick Griffin, comedian.
What ‘clean’ represents in this context
For the sake of clarity, alternate forms of acknowledgement don’t necessarily mean you got a ‘dirty’ response. When I say ‘clean,’ I refer to the lack of additional information in their response. For instance they might say “Yes,” and then add further information or adjust what they said. In both cases, you should immediately start looking for emotional cues again. Emotions can change quickly and subtly, so don’t get stuck on what they originally said. If you didn’t get a simple affirmative response, don’t go back and try again necessarily. You might say, “Sounds like I missed what you intended.”
Dealing with Past and Future Emotions
Often when people relate, they talk about experiences from the past, or address concerns for the future. This starts to get a little more complex. For example, someone might feel nervous, that they will feel scared (in the future). Or they might feel angry, that they got humiliated (in the past). Pretty simple right? In these cases the ‘You feel’ statement might alter to a ‘You felt’ statement.
The ‘You Should Know’ Fallacy
In closer relationships, people often fall victim to bad telepathy. Most telepathy goes pretty poorly, since people can’t read minds. They maybe can get a lot of information from expressions, and even exploit that ability to get you going along with what they say, but they can’t tap directly into your thinking. Still, we tend to think our family members and friends should know us so well, that we don’t need to verify. So, I just told you a source for a lot of misunderstandings and damaging conflicts. People skip the crucial step of relaying confirmation. The Armed Forces figured this out a long time ago. In the military miscommunications can cost precious lives. Relaying orders back to commanding officers holds top priority. Drill Sargents make this painfully obvious with exotic echo and call rituals, which often seem extravagant and unnecessarily cruel. Fortunately, for civilians, most miscommunications don’t lead to casualties, but reflection remains critical. No one can read your mind, so don’t expect they know how you feel. Cooperate with ‘You Feel’ statements, until you get clean ‘Yes’ responses.