English Prime

Writing, Speaking, and Reflecting in E-prime English

Category: Communication

‘You Feel’ Statements Reflect Without Advising

‘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.


The Phases of Discussion for Navigating Conversations

phases of discussion

please note this image needs an update to reflect current refinements in the phases of discussion.

Discussing Feelings and Thoughts in Pairs

Please standby as I attempt to somewhat systematize the phases of discussion below.  For the purposes of our work today, we will not include speeches, monologs, ranting, judging, or other various forms of one-sided communication.

The Phases of Discussion

I want to know what you think about the phases of discussion identified below. Can you think of one I left out our overlooked? Perhaps you have an opinion or advice about how I could approach this. Either, way I want to know what you think about the information presented below. If you have time, Contact Me, after you read it.

Meeting and Greeting – Each phase deserves mention here, as I build this list to a comprehensive catalog.  We don’t leave out salutations, which set the tone for the discussion to follow.  You might shake hands, embrace, or even kiss the other person depending on how you know them.

Arguing and Negotiating – You know these well, depending on how actively you enforce your personal boundaries and pursue goals. If you can learn to turn arguments into negotiating, you’ll move towards accordance with people.  When negotiating goes South, or gets drawn out into a lengthy process, guard against arguments by taking a short break to get some fresh air.

Conversation and Sharing – Conversational tone means light-hearted.  If people start to click in a conversation, it may take the tone of agreement or accordance.  You can identify conversation by elevated attention to the details, where the outside world seems to give way to the participants’ dialogue. A conversation could lead to sharing, where both parties describe their familiarity with a shared topic.  Conversely, if the topic broaches sensitive subject matter for either friend, a conversation could trigger an argument or end abruptly.

Cooperation and Logistics –  When you build some repertoire with another, you may end up cooperating to achieve a mutual goal. Even meeting somewhere for coffee, requires logistics to plan, depart, and arrive on time.   The tone of discussion can vary depending on the circumstance.  Look for a solid pattern of confirmation reflection and trust to presages efficient cooperation.  Logistics include all the discussions related to the details of everyday living.  Life’s necessities often require you to meet and exchange logistical information.

Criticisizing and Reviewing

Teasing and Antagonizing

Berating and Scolding

Silly Talk and Funny Voices – Who wants to stay serious all of the time?  Our private discussions often involve some amount of goofing around, and what better way to joke than with a thick and terribly inaccurate Russian accent? Or maybe you just want to have a mouth-farting choir with your best friend on a long car ride. Whatever the occasion, silly talk and funny voices help lighten the mood, and can seem hopelessly addictive.  Cohorts will roll their eyes, when you can’t stop talking that way later in more public settings.

Flirting and Sharing Affections – We could just refer to this as cozy discussions.  Easy to identify by the lower volume, since one probably needs not project more than a foot or two.  Kissing during this phase of discussion will feel a bit different than kissing during a greeting.  Don’t worry you still have plenty of ways to fowl this up, if you decide to keep talking.  Mistakes here can do serious damage, or they might just get laughed off, as the herculean force of intimacy tends to dwarf whatever you just mentioned.

Quick Tips for Optimizing Discussions:

  1. Learn to recognize your current phase.  Say it out loud, if you don’t mind stating the obvious: “This feels like debating,” or “I feel flirtatious.”
  2. Learn to recognize when the discussion starts to turn.  If you can sense moving from one phase to another, you can often have some idea where things might head conversationally.
  3. Take your time, learn to enjoy each phase thoroughly and you won’t have to worry about controlling volatility at extremes.

Take a Trip Down Communication Lane

With the World population topping 7 billion people, most of us will encounter plenty of opportunities to learn effective communication.

Communication represents the combination of an emotional display and  conceptual content expressed during a conversation or even in a single sentence.  As participants in communication, we choose how we react and share the responsibility for the outcome of our negotiations.  Removing the verb ‘to be’ remains essential to communicating perspectives over facts.  In this article, I propose some ways we can abstract the territory of communication to help get a foothold on otherwise blind negotiations.

Overview – The Aggression – Negotiation – Intimacy Spectrum

For the purposes of discussion I focus on the Intimacy of Ideas, or how people correspond verbally.  The spectrum of behavior seems to extend to physical behavior as well.  One can use this simplistic arrangement to form a mile-high view of communications.  Social interactions between more than two folks potentially builds complexity as allegiance shifts throughout a conversation, so we’ll focus on two person communication for now.

Two-way communication phases

Fighting – Arguing – Debating – Negotiating – Logistics – Conversing – Flirting

The above labels represent words that describe communications where speaking and listening flow back and forth between individuals, as opposed to one-way communications where one or both participants refuses to listen to some degree.  Since we often just don’t hear each other correctly, listening appears as the priority concern over speaking.  Unfortunately, as you’ll discover, listening does not get the attention required for successful negotiations.

One-way communication phases

Instructing – Preaching – Story Telling – Scolding – Praising

This article remains under construction. Infographic coming soon.

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