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Tanisha Fulcher:Welcome, everyone, to Family Conference 2020 presented by Rhombus University. The topic covered in this presentation is Healthy Communication with Dr. Esther Yi. Dr. Esther Yi earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Asian Studies with an emphasis in Korean from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She received both her Master’s Degrees in Counseling Psychology and Doctorate in Psychology from Southern California Seminary Graduate School of Behavioral Sciences.
Her years of clinical experience include working with survivors of sex trafficking, domestic violence offenders, and individuals with drug and alcohol addiction, depression, anxiety, family issues, and cultural adjustments. She is passionate about providing counseling by respecting a person’s decisions, embracing their culture, and empathizing with their pain.
Dr. Yi is currently a professor at Bethel University and Point Loma Nazarene University. She also provides consultation and training to organizations who value integrating psychology and business. Dr. Yi is currently working as a psychological assistant under the direct supervision of Dr. Julie Hayden. I am happy to welcome Dr. Esther Yi, presenting on Healthy Communication.
Dr. Esther Yi:Hi, everybody. Tanisha, thank you so much for that welcome. Today, I’m going to go ahead and dive in, because we have a short amount of time. We’re going to be talking about healthy communication.
The four things that I want to discuss with you guys today is just the value of why it’s so important when we’re talking about healthy communication, the four different communication styles. When we go over those, I want you to think about, “Man, which one am I?” Or maybe you’re a combination of multiple ones. The last part, which is super important, is I want to give you guys tips and tools that you can use right now to be able to apply. And then lastly, the Q&A session, too.
So first thing we’re going to talk about, just the value of it. I asked some of you guys this question already. So if you were to invite me over to your house on a Friday night, what are some things that I should know beforehand? So do me a favor and just chat it in the chat box. If I was to come over to your house on a Friday night, just think about it, what are some things that I should know beforehand for us to have a good, successful Friday night?
Okay. I like it. Be ready to play a game after dinner. Makes me think that I should probably wear comfortable clothes. Time and place, absolutely. I would like to know where I’m going. Yes, if I have, or if you guys have food allergies. UNO, I like it. It’s been a while since I’ve played, but I love UNO. Removing your shoes. Smart. I would hate to walk into somebody’s home wearing my shoes if that’s not what they do at their home. Bring a fire log. I would’ve never thought to think about that. Please don’t bring your pet. Absolutely. I do have the cutest Maltese, but I usually don’t take her to dinners. House is full of animals. Oh my goodness, that sounds so fun. Birds flying, okay. Come hungry. Yes, I know that particular couple, and they cook really good food, so I would come hungry. I like it. Thank you guys.
So I want to paint a picture to you guys really quick as we start. Communication, healthy communication, guys, good communication allows us to be successful in our actions day to day. When we’re interacting with other people, there are things that you can do for your communication and your interactions to be good. It’s just not a fluke. There are things that you can do intentionally. So that’s what I want to do for you guys.
So just as you guys had answered some of the things that you could do by telling me beforehand before I get there, think about, well, how do you communicate? Do you communicate through, maybe it’s texting, or calling? Or do you make a plan ahead of time? Do you have a dinner menu before I get there? Are you telling me what I should bring or what I shouldn’t bring? Maybe you’re asking yourself, “How do I communicate?” Somebody texts you the day and time of dinner, and there are some people who don’t respond to a text. So now maybe you’re the host and you’re like, “Are they coming or are they not coming? I said we’re having chicken. Do they like chicken? Do they not like chicken? Are they vegetarian?”Maybe as you’re communicating, should you ask them, “Hey, should I bring something over for dinner? Can I bring a dessert? Can I bring a bottle of wine? Wait, do you guys drink? Is somebody sober in the house? Maybe I shouldn’t bring it.” So thinking about these things. Because what I’m doing is considering not only how I communicate, but I’m also considering how they might communicate, and the context, because it depends on the family. There are certain topics that you may feel comfortable talking with certain types of people. So you might have some safe people.
For instance, right now we are in just a crazy time in our country. There might be some topics that you’re like, “Ooh, I would love to pick their brain about with this person.” But there might be other topics that you’re like, “I don’t know if they would respond well to my questions. So I would rather talk about the weather, because maybe that’s a safe topic.”
So consider to yourself as you’re engaging in this communication. Be wise, set yourself up for success. Are they a safe person? Are you a safe person? Is this a topic that you want to engage in with that person? Maybe it’s not, and that’s okay. That’s why we have billions of people in this world. You could probably engage in that type of conversation with somebody else.
I want to share our verse with you guys before we keep moving. And it says, “Know this, my beloved brothers. Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” It’s from James 1:19-20. I can’t tell you how many times that I find when I work with my clients, that this is gold.
Hey guys, here in our office, we work with a lot of domestic violence offenders. There’s a lot of anger, communication errors that take place. And we talk a lot about the importance of being quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. Because we find that when people get excited about certain topic and their emotions are flowing, sometimes we don’t think before we speak. We speak first, and then we try to reel it back, and we’re like, “Oh my gosh, it already left my mouth.” So let’s consider some of those things moving forward.
How you communicate tells your story. I want you guys to think about that for a really quick second. How you communicate tells your story. For instance, I’m from Oklahoma. Not too many people can guess when they first hear me speak, but there are certain phrases or certain words that I might say. So I might say “y’all,” and people are like, “Oh, where are you from? You must not be from California to be saying something like that.” And so it tells a little bit about my story, about who I am as a person.So I want you to consider to yourself how you communicate. How does it tell your story? Because when we’re listening to other people speak and communicate with us, they’re sharing a bit about who they are. Our job is to listen to that. Our job is to observe, not to judge them for how they do communicate or how they don’t communicate. But we want to come from a place of, “Well, I just want to learn more about who you are, so I can understand you and love you better.”
So people around the world, they communicate differently. It is very easy for people to make assumptions about people in the world, depending on how they speak or how they don’t speak. Interestingly, when I was in Korea last year, my son unfortunately got sick, and his fever was running really high, and we didn’t have enough medication for him to drop his fever. So I went to Korea, and my husband was there with me at the time, and he had to take my son to a pharmacist. I’m realizing we don’t know what kind of medication he’s going to need, but also we just weren’t familiar with how they do things medically there. So we had to have somebody else go with us to help translate what was appropriate and what’s not appropriate for a child. And one of the things that we learned is that you can’t get medication like ibuprofen without a prescription. But in the United States, you can. It’s over the counter medication. So that’s something that we learned. That’s something that they communicated to us.
I’m also thinking that sometimes when people see me there, and I’m having a difficult time communicating what my needs are, their assumption is, possibly, she may not be educated. It also could be the assumption that she’s not from here. And they would be absolutely right; I was not from that country because I was born in the US.
So I want you guys to think about that, because I find that a lot of times people make assumptions based on how somebody communicates. Rather than jumping to an assumption, what I want us to do instead is ask the phrase, Tell me more.” Coming from a heart of being humble and asking them, “Hey, tell me more. Tell me more about your story. Tell me more about what’s happening in the context of what’s taking place.”
When we are quick to assume things, you might want to replace that with, “How else can I think about this? How else can I think about the situation? How else can I think about what they said?” Rather than jumping to an assumption like, “Well, they’re just rude.” Well, we could also think, “They’re having a bad day.” Maybe they’re hungry, because hanger is real. Maybe they’re tired; they didn’t get enough sleep.Let’s look at the four different communication styles. The first one is passive. This is when you prioritize the needs, wants, and desires of others, even at the expense of yours. You might find that these people, they tend to be maybe more soft spoken or quiet. They allow other people to take advantage of them. They put other people’s needs ahead of their own. Sometimes these are the people who have a hard time expressing what they want, what they need, and what they desire.
Have you met a person who, maybe you ask them, “Hey, what do you want to eat today?” And they have a hard time. “I want food.” What? Okay. “Oh, I just want what you want.” “Okay, but what do you want?” And so sometimes there’s this frustrating back and forth that can happen. We find that sometimes those that are passive also might lack confidence in their ability to share. They might blame themselves. “Oh, it’s my fault that they did this. It’s my fault that they said this.” And they might even have poor eye contact. Now take this into consideration of culture. I realize that sometimes it’s appropriate to have eye contact with certain cultures, and sometimes it’s not.
So this isn’t if you have all these things, then you’re a hundred percent passive. But these are things that I just want you to notice. Notice these things about somebody that might be passive. What you’re saying is, “Your needs are more important than my needs are. Your values are more important than my values are.” What I find with those that are passive, they get hurt very easily. Because when you don’t value your own needs, wants, and desires, other people will probably not value your needs, wants and desires. That’s hard.
Aggressive. It’s kind of on the other spectrum. This is when you’re saying, “Hey, only my needs, only my wants, only my desires matter.” You might even bully other people. Or, you might just ignore some of the things that you’re saying or they’re saying. You might force your needs or opinions. Maybe you’re engaging in a lot of political conversations right now. Consider with me, have you been forcing your needs and opinions onto other people? Or, have you had that done to yourself, where you felt like maybe people are even bullying you or pushing you around? Those that tend to communicate aggressively are thinking just the two letter word me, me, me. It’s about me, and what my needs are, and what my desires are. I really could care less about what you want; it’s actually what I want. That’s the best thing. The best thing for everybody is what I’m saying. Rather than thinking, “Tell me more,” how else can I think about this?
Aggressive people tend to talk louder and louder, because they think louder is better. The louder I speak, the more likely it is that I’m going to win. They may not compromise. They might shout, they might yell, and they may even get physically aggressive. This tends to damage relationships. Those that are aggressive tend to blame others. “Well, it’s their fault. If they wouldn’t have said that, then we wouldn’t be here. If they just didn’t do something to make me angry, then I wouldn’t be angry. So it’s actually your fault. You shouldn’t have said that.” Right? These are things that an aggressive person would say.They might threaten others. “Well, I’m just going to never talk to you ever again if you don’t agree with me all the time.” There are healthy boundaries, but it’s a different thing to threaten other people. “Well, I’m just going to tell everybody that you are small minded, and that you don’t consider other people’s feelings, and that you make it all about yourself.” That would be another example of threatening behavior.
Aggressive communication is rather than listening, you’re hearing them because you are able to hear with your ears, but you’re thinking about a comeback. “What am I going to say really fast? Well no, that’s dumb. This is why you’re wrong. Well, let me show you this.” Okay? So for those that are quick on their feet and wanting to spit out a comeback, oftentimes it’s not good listening. And then the last part of that is just those that tend to interrupt.
Passive aggressive, which is kind of the combination between the two that we just talked about. Those that are passive aggressive tend to be really ambiguous. “Sure. Okay. Yeah, I will… Okay, we can hang out this week, sure. Okay, when? With who? Where? What time?” Passive aggressive people also mutter under their breath. Have you met somebody who you start to walk away and they say things under their breath? How about those that are sarcastic? ‘Oh, you’re just so… You always have the right thing to say and you’re perfect and I’m wrong. And I’m the mess up here.” Might be an example of sarcasm.
Maybe you’re indirect, and you’re beating them around the bush, and people are like, “I don’t know what you’re saying.” How about when you procrastinate? Somebody asks you to do something, and you’re like, “I really don’t want to do it, so you know what? I’m going to take forever to do it. So now they’re not going to ask me to do something.” Or the silent treatment. You are burning, and you’re fuming, and you’re angry, and you’re like, “Not going to say anything to you.”
You might have a victim mentality where you’re thinking, “Woe is me. Everything is my fault. Everybody just blames me. I’m an awful person.” And so rather than coming from a place of, “Let me take responsibility for my portion,” you just think, “Everybody hates me.” It’s really difficult maybe to engage and talk with somebody like that.
Somebody asks you, “Hey, how are you doing?” “I’m fine. I don’t have a problem. Do you have a problem? No, I’m not angry. Stop asking me. I’m not angry.” This is very passive aggressive communication. You might be super critical of others. You might judge them. “I can’t believe they’re wearing that. I can’t believe they said that. Look at what they said.” And making assumptions by being very critical.
Similarly to procrastinating, you might also just produce very poor quality work. Somebody asks you, “Can you do the dishes?” And you’re like, “Ugh, I don’t want to.” And so I don’t even know if you you use soap. Barely wash the dishes. You just stick it in. You’re not organizing them nicely. Maybe you just shove everything in the dishwasher. You close it. Maybe you half close it. Very poor quality work because you’re angry, you don’t really want to do it. People who tend to be pass aggressive also maybe are just sabotaging the work that needs to take place. They might be annoying other people are disrupting others in order to move forward.
This is the last one. Assertive communication. This is kind of what we are looking for. Okay? This is when a person may value their own needs and wants, but they also value the needs and wants of other people. They request what they specifically need without becoming aggressive. So the first thing that you need to do when it comes to assertive communication is you just got to identify, “Well, what do you want? What do you need? What do you desire?”
Those that practice assertive communication, you’re listening well. Not just with the words, but also they’re nonverbal. What’s happening in their body. You’re able to empathize with other people. Wow, you know what it’s like to put yourself in that person’s shoes. And you know what? When you don’t know, you ask. And you say, “Hey, can you tell me more? I don’t know what it’s like for you in this situation.” So rather than saying, “I know exactly how you feel,” you say, “I am not sure. Could you tell me a little bit about how you’re feeling and what this has been like for you?”
You’re able to express yourself honestly and respectfully. You can identify your feelings. You can say, “I’m hurt. I’m frustrated. I’m glad I’m at peace. I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I’m frustrated, angry.” Whatever it is.You’re able to identify your own feelings, because you know that you are responsible for your own actions. You’re not responsible how other people feel. So unfortunately, sometimes we have a lot of people-pleasers, and we don’t want to rock the boat. We don’t want them to feel uncomfortable or upset. And so sometimes, it’s at the expense of us sharing honestly about our own feelings, because we’re worried about how other people might think or how other people might feel. But somebody who practices assertive communication, they recognize that you have no control over how another person feels, because that is not your responsibility; it is their responsibility. You have respect for others and yourself, and you’re able to clearly request what you want.
So let’s talk about some of the tips and tools to do some of these things. One of the things that I find that is very helpful for my husband and I is this phrase. I ask him, I say, “Hey, is this a good time?” if I know that I have a topic that I want to share with him. We have a toddler, we have family living in our home. He has a busy job, I have a busy job. And so I find that it’s not always a good time to talk about deep, intense conversations. And so we ask this phrase, “Hey, is this a good time?” And maybe it is, and maybe it’s not. And if it’s not, say, “Hey, can you tell me when it is a good time? Maybe we can even put it in our calendar.” So we protect that time and space for us.
Use time to your advantage. This kind of comes from the verse of slow to speak, because sometimes in the moment we think, “Wow, I need to share right now.” But actually, do you? Is it an emergency? Is this a life or death situation that’s taking place right now? Because if it is, that’s totally different. But if it’s not, could you wait 15, 30 minutes later? An hour later? Maybe the next day, pick a time.I want you to ask yourself, are you emotionally charged? Are you emotionally charged? That could mean, are you filled with lots of rage and anger? Or maybe you’re just crying a lot and you’re having a hard time collecting your thoughts. Take a deep breath, take a step back, because I want us to be able to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
And so if you are emotionally charged, ask the question, “Is this a good time to talk about this?” And then ask also for them, if the other person is emotionally charged, maybe it’s not the best time for them to have this type of conversation, whatever it is. Take a step back, ask them, “Hey, maybe we can speak in 30 minutes.” Physiologically, guys, it takes about 20 to 30 minutes for somebody to kind of calm down a little bit. So use time in your favor and say, “Hey, in 30 minutes, can we come back and talk about this?” Where you have given your body a time to relax before you engage in a conversation.
This is what assertive communication does look like. Let your yeses be yeses, and your nos be nos. So think about that. What do you want to say yes to? And what would you like to say no to? If somebody asked you, “Hey, are you free for dinner on a Friday night?” You could say, “Yes.” And they say, “Hey, would you be open to having pizzas?” And maybe you don’t like pizza. I recently met somebody who does not like pizza. I was very shocked. So you might say, “Oh, no, I’m not okay with pizza. I would be open to a hamburger instead.” So maybe even giving them an alternative.
Think about yourself talk. What are you saying to yourself when you’re communicating with other people? Are you walking into the conversation thinking, “They’re not going to listen. I don’t have anything important to say. Why would I even say that? That’s stupid.” So when you have this negative self talk that’s going on, it’s going to start spewing out in your conversations. Instead, identify the positives. Identify what’s important. Identify your strengths as a person. Your voice is valuable. You have self-worth because the Lord says you do. You are created in his image. He has placed these things on your heart. Identify those things before you walk into a conversation. Pump yourself up. Be specific, kind of like what I talked about before in terms of time.
You know what is probably one of the most frustrating things? Is that when somebody requests something and they don’t request anything specific. I recently had somebody say, “Well, can you look over there?” Where is there? “Over there. Next to the thing over there?” What thing? What thing do you want me to look to next over there? Left, right, above you, below you. Maybe describe it by color. It’s pink or it’s red or it’s white, whatever it is. Be specific.
Empathize. Assertive communication is not just about what you have to say. It’s also understanding, coming from a place where you understand that other person, and what it’s like to be in their shoes. Because you know what? I’m sure you’ve talked with somebody, and maybe they’re sharing with you a situation. It’s possible that all they want you to do is listen. Other times it’s possible that they want you to give them a solution. A part of empathizing is understanding that, that sometimes people want different things. And maybe even asking them so you have a better understanding of what’s happening to them.An easy way you might be able to do this is identifying, “Well, how might they feel?” And if you’re not sure, ask them. Consider your audience. Consider the context, and consider who you’re talking to. Because we know when we’re talking with certain types of people, it’s very different, and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with changing how you talk depending on the person. I think it’s a really good way of empathizing with them.
And then practice, practice, practice. Assertive communication takes practice. So try it, and then you’re like, “Uh, not exactly what I was hoping for.” Take a step back. What did you learn? Try it again.Be specific with your needs. If you order coffee, I know how specific some of y’all are when it comes to ordering your coffee. Be that specific guys. Okay?
Healthy communication. Some things that it also looks like. You want to observe the situation of what is happening. Okay? Observe what’s happening for them. Are they crying profusely, guys? It’s probably not the time to tell them all the things that they did wrong. Have some empathy. Have some compassion. Grab some tissues and sit with them.
How about for you? Observe what’s happening for you. I’ve recently have been quite busy doing a lot of different types of seminars, and I enjoy these. But I also know that I have to make sure that I get good rest, I have something to eat, that I have my water, that I am planning childcare for my son, so I can set myself up for success. Because I know that when some of these things don’t happen, what I’m observing in myself is an increased anxiety, and fear, and worry.
Understand the context of what’s taking place, and then no judgment. This is probably one of the most difficult things that I find in people, is that they have a hard time not judging themselves. You might struggle with thoughts of, “Why’d you say that? That was dumb, don’t say that. Yes, say that. Don’t say this. You should do this, or you could do this.” Shoulda, woulda, coulda, oftentimes, is not helpful.I want you to consider your feelings. One of the ways that you can increase your ability to deal with conflict well, guys, increase your feeling vocabulary. Why? Because when you’re more in tune with how you’re feeling, you’re more in tune with the words that are coming out of your mouth. So consider that. Think about, “Well, what do you feel?” And if you’re like, “I only know the feeling words good and fine,” because sometimes I ask my husband that, and he says, “Good,” I ask the question to follow up, “What does good look like for you today?” What does good look like for you today?
So, I feel this. What do you need? Be specific. Okay? You know when you ask a person, “Let’s go out to eat.” And you ask them, “Hey, so what do you want to eat?” And they say, “Well, I don’t want Mexican. I don’t want Korean. I don’t want burgers. I don’t want pizza.” And you’re like, “Okay, what do you want?” And they say all the things that they don’t want. And you find it’s not helpful, because then you say, “Well, do you want pizza?” And they say, “No.” You know what is more helpful? If you just say, “I want a salad.” Okay?
So think about what are your needs, be specific, and not what you don’t want, but tell them what you do need. “I need respect. I need our voices to be at a level tone. I need for there to not be any yelling or not any cursing. I need for us to take a break, 30 minutes.” Okay? Tell them what you need.
It also looks like just being honest and being empathetic. I think I talked about this enough, so I’m going to keep going for the sake of time. Before you talk, I want you to consider your tone. Okay? Your tone, your volume. How loud you are, or how quiet you are.
And your body language. Man, if you’re coming at somebody with your fists closed and your arms crossed and you’re glaring, you don’t have to talk, because I already know, according to your body language, this is not a conversation I’m probably going to want to have with you. You’re rolling your eyes, whatever it is. Be mindful. And if you’re not sure for all of those that are a little bit more stubborn with ourselves, look at a mirror, and I’m being serious. Hold up a mirror in front of you, and change, loosen up your body language, to where you’re like, “Okay, yes. I would like to have a conversation who looks like that.” So consider your body language.
Sometimes when we’re in heated discussions and arguments, guys, the best way we can have a conversation is whispering. Ooh, try fighting whispering. It’s really difficult, I find. Okay? So think about that.
I statements. People have shared this a lot in the past before about healthy communication, and it’s important so I just want to do a really short version of this. The first thing I want you to do is to think about identify what are your feelings. I feel… And if I say, “I’m frustrated.” “What I need is for us to start on time. Could you show up at 3:30 tomorrow?” I was very specific. Guys, I know that for some of us who tend to be a little bit more passive when it comes to communicating, we think, “Wow, we’re being mean. That’s rude.” But really it’s not. It’s just a different way of communicating, because you’re not judging. You’re not saying, “You should do this,” or, “You could do this.” It’s just more of you’re stating the facts of what’s taking place.
Are you frustrated? You probably are, if maybe somebody’s late all the time. Also considering to yourself, your emotions and your values and what you need, it’s important, and God cares. Man, he cares so deeply for those things. You are worthy. You are created in His image. So think about that, because I want you to treat yourself with that type of respect, with that type of kindness, with that type of compassion, that your voice matters. Not above anybody else, but it matters. So think, “What do you feel? What do you need?” And you know what? This might be difficult, because you might be saying, “I don’t know what I need.” Then take some time to think about what you do need. Let’s try to avoid engaging in a conversation before you have figured out what you need. Because you know what? Maybe somebody can help you with that, but really you need to come back to your own values and your own necessities thinking about what you need. The last part about that is making a request. Guys, be specific when it comes to making a request. What do you need?
With healthy communication, man, any advice givers over here, who you just love to give advice? Tell people what to do, how to live their life. In the church world, you know what we call this? We call this accountability. It is hard sometimes when we have a Christian way of saying something like this. And I want you to take into consideration, “Hey, did they ask for your advice? Did they ask, or did you ask them before you could give that advice?” Because I want you to be a safe person. I want you to be a person that people feel comfortable coming to. And you know what is uncomfortable? When somebody tells you something that you were like, “I didn’t want to hear that.” It becomes more hurtful than helpful.In the Christian world, ask if somebody wants accountability. It may be that they have an awful, you know, whatever sin it is that they’re struggling with. But if they’re not asking for the accountability, maybe you can ask them. “Hey, is there a way that I can help support you?” Okay? So make sure. Let’s ask, let’s give people the respect to be able to ask them.
I’m a little bit over time, so this is my last portion here, questions and answers. What are some things that I could answer for you guys? This is just my last slide that I have on here, is just when you know better, guys, you do better. So I’m so glad that you’re here. Because when you know better, when you’ve learned these things, now you can do better.
Tanisha Fulcher:Thank you so much for a wonderful, such a wonderful presentation. We do actually have two questions so far in the chat box. So the first question, the participant asked if there’s a gender component to how long a person takes to calm down.
Dr. Esther Yi:I think that’s a really good question. I’m not sure if there’s a gender component specifically. In general, over time and research, we just found that it takes about 20 to 30 minutes. So I would err on the side of caution. “Let’s take a 30 minute break.” This isn’t the time to think about all the reasons, guys, why you’re mad at them, okay? You want to use this 30 minutes for your advantage. What does that mean? Do what you need to do to calm down. Okay? Read a book, distract yourself, go get something to eat, work out a little bit, take some deep breaths, watch something that it’s not going to increase your blood pressure. But let’s use something to calm us down.
Tanisha Fulcher:Thank you. Another participant, I’ll just read what they wrote. “I imagine people’s communication styles can vary in different relationships with different people. Can you comment on how to move towards assertive communication in a relationship where you may tend to refer to passive style?”
Dr. Esther Yi:Okay. Good point. Well, I think the first thing you just did was just identifying, “Hey, maybe I tend to be a little bit more passive when it comes to a certain type of conversation.” I see this sometimes in the workplace, where you’re like, “Oh, I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes.” So you just somehow end up being this yes man, and you didn’t even intentionally try to be that.
First, identify what’s going on for yourself. Think about, is there a reason why you find that you’re having a hard time being assertive with them? It may feel uncomfortable in the beginning, guys. And that feeling of comfortability, it is a feeling, which means feelings pass. Guys, do your best not to make decisions based only on your feelings. Okay? Identify your feeling, think about the logical sides, combine them, make a decision. That’s what we call a wise decision. So think to yourself, “I’m feeling unheard. I’m feeling ignored.” The logical side about that is, “Well, what can I say or what can I do to present my case?” Maybe you practice. Maybe you come up with a phrase. Maybe you say it to somebody else and say, “Hey, tell me if this is me being assertive, or tell me if it’s me being a little too aggressive.” Practice it. So now when you’re going into a conversation, you have set yourself up for success.
I said the word success, not perfection, because we all know that perfection can achieve that. So now we’re thinking about it, we’ve practiced it, and now we say it. So practice, practice, practice. Okay? Good question.
“Can assertiveness be confused with arrogance?” I think so. I absolutely think so. And you know what? I think it’s because a lot of times you will find that there are not too many people who communicate well. And so because of that, sometimes people think, “Well, then they must be arrogant.” But remember the lens that they may be looking through may not be a healthy lens. It may be a lens of where they’ve also been hurt. So consider that.
I think Jesus was actually very assertive when it comes to what we’re to do and what we’re not to do in the Bible. I don’t think that I would consider him arrogant. And yet, maybe there are some people who would say he was very arrogant. Communicating your needs? There’s nothing wrong with that, guys. There is something wrong if you don’t care about other people’s needs. We want to make sure that we’re doing both, that we’re being respectful.
Oh, okay. That’s a tough one. “What happens if someone tells you they don’t care how you feel?” Ouch. That’s hurtful. That’s hurtful. I don’t know if there’s any other way to describe that. It’s hurtful when somebody says that. It also tells you a little bit more about themself, which says they’re probably not a safe person for you to go to. They’re probably not a safe person for you to go to. Meaning, when you have things going on in your life, I hope that you don’t pick this person to tell them things, because they’ve already told you that they don’t care how you feel.
It’s okay to walk away. It’s okay to place a firm boundary there. Go to the people who do care, who want to know more about how you’re feeling and what’s going on in your life. It’s okay to say, “Wow, that was really hurtful. I’m not sure if I can continue to have this conversation with you, because you’ve mentioned that my feelings aren’t important.” This is why, guys, it’s so important that you value your own wants, needs, and desires, and communicate those things. Because if you do not communicate those things, people think it’s okay to walk all over you. They will probably also not value your wants, needs, and desires. Sometimes unconsciously, sometimes consciously. Good question.
“What if someone doesn’t let you take a 30 minute break?” Unless they’re holding you down, tying you down somewhere and they won’t let you leave, which you know what, unfortunately, it does happen. We work with a lot of domestic violence cases here in our office, and we’ve seen it a lot, unfortunately, where it does take a physical role like that.
Let me preface by saying, don’t take a 30 minute break before you’ve talked about why you need to take a 30 minute break. What that means is, when everything is chill, when everything is cool, everybody’s in a good mood, be proactive about healthy communication. What does that look like? It means, “Hey, anytime we get super heated, how about we have a word that we say like ‘break’? And we both know that’s a 30 minute break.” Because what I don’t want you to do is, you’re fighting, you’re going back and forth, and you’re like walking out. And they’re like, “Where are you going?” And you’re like, “I’m taking a break. The doctor told me to take a break.” Okay, well, slow down. Let’s go back. Let’s communicate what our needs are first. Say, “Hey, anytime I notice that we begin to yell, or we’re getting really bright in the face red, let’s agree that we will take a 30 minute break. Is that something that you can agree with?” And if they say yes, you’re going to hold them to that. So if that were to take place in your communication, you’re going to take a 30 minute break and then you’re going to come back.
Some people may not agree about the 30 minute break, but I’m going to ask you, is that what you need? Is that what you need to keep yourself safe? Also, the other person safe, where you’re not saying things that are going to intentionally hurt them. And if that’s what you need, then you take a 30 minute break. Go to the bathroom, go somewhere. If they’re putting their hands on you, guys, that’s a totally different conversation for us to have, because that’s dealing with a different type of safety that’s happening. Good question.
“How do you encourage that college student living at home to value their parents’ communication and stay connected?” Man, guys, this is a hard one, because you know what? It requires people to be self-aware, and that is not something that everybody values. You need to make sure that you have good communication regardless of what the other person has.
Some parents communicate in a certain style, and then college students communicate in a different style. It doesn’t make it maybe one is the best way or not. The goal is for the relationship to win. It’s a we. When you’re living in a home, the goal is for the relationship to win. What does that mean? You’re going to have to kill the pride, guys. Because it’s not just about you; it’s also about them. It’s also about the unity, and it’s about the family. And if you guys want that, every relationship takes work. If you think it doesn’t take work, they’re lying. Anything that’s worth anything, guys, it takes work. Your communication will take work. So what can I say to a college student to encourage them and value their parents’ communication? Asking them, “Tell me more. Tell me more.”
One of the things that I realized about men in our family or in my culture is that they tend to not talk about feelings a lot. They tend to be a little bit more abrupt and firm when it comes to their talking. I also know that there’s been many family members who have survived war, and in the moment they couldn’t be caught up in their feelings because they were barely able to think about how to make money and put food in the stomachs of their children. And so some things that my grandparents tell me is, “It’s a luxury to have a long conversation.” So for them, they’re not used to having a long conversation. They’ve never had to do that. So consider that.
“Any recommendations for reading?” Good question. This is a book that I’m currently reading right now. I’m still working through it. It’s by Marshall Rosenberg. It’s called Nonviolent Communication. I don’t know if you guys can see it. Excellent book. It’s by Dr. Rosenberg, super famous… I want to say he’s a psychologist, but he’s very, very famous. He does a lot of trainings, actually. He’s gone to war torn countries and talking about how to communicate. He works with schools, with companies. Excellent person that I learn from a lot that I recommend for anybody else. Very easy read, not expensive. I got it on Amazon. Nonviolent Communication.
Also, there are specific books for specific age groups. Like I shared, I have a toddler, so I have been reading a lot of parenting books on communication. Because I’m going to need all the tools that I can when I’m trying to talk to my almost two year old who, of course, loves the word no. So that’s what I’ve been doing to set myself up and our relationship up for success.
Thank you guys so much for spending part of your Saturday with me. It truly was an honor and a privilege to share with you guys and to connect with you guys. And of course, thank you to Tanisha for hosting our time together here.
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