For your I-Messages to be effective, you often need to spend more time active listening to the other person’s responses than you spend giving your I-Message.
Remember the Gear-Shifting diagram (page 60 in the P.E.T. workbook)?
A clear I-Message is a powerful tool. You get to think seriously about your needs and stand up for yourself with clarity and confidence. No blaming, directing or otherwise roadblocking the other person, so you’re also strengthening your relationship with him. You expect to get a quick positive result.
And sometimes you do. What often happens, though, is that the other person instead starts to defend himself. It can feel as if you haven’t given an I-Message at all. The temptation then is for you to defend yourself—or, at the very least, to try to drive your I-Message home. Instead, now is a good time to take a discrete deep breath.
Most people are expecting to be dismissed or controlled when there is a problem. Until their point of view and feelings about it have been thoroughly listened to and accepted, they can’t experience the profound respect of your I-Message.So you need to active listen until they relax a bit, restate your I-Message as clearly and briefly as you can, then active listen again. Once the other person experiences that you:
1. Sincerely accept his position and its importance to him;
2. Are not trying to change his mind;
3. Are simply expressing your conflicting need, and
4. Trust him to come up with an effective solution, or to work one out with you that meets both your needs;
...he is much more likely be able to listen to you, and willing to help you out.
In the meantime, best wishes for plenty of happy and effective parenting!
By: Certified P.E.T. Instructor, Catherine Dickerson, M.Ed., LCSW, Registered Play Therapist, License #24454
Catherine's next P.E.T. workshop begins in Solana Beach, CA on April 16th! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.