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Tell Them How They Make You Feel

communication conflict resolution emotions empathy personal growth relationships vulnerability Apr 08, 2024

Effective communication is the foundation of any strong relationship, whether it's with a partner, family member, or friend. However, expressing our feelings and addressing issues can be challenging, especially when emotions run high. One powerful tool for navigating these difficult conversations is the "When You Do 'A,' I Feel 'B'" formula. This approach helps you express your emotions without resorting to blame or assault, fostering a more open and productive dialogue.

The Heart of the Matter

At its core, this formula is about vulnerability and connection. When you share how someone's actions or attitudes affect you emotionally, you're opening your heart and inviting them to understand your perspective. This vulnerability can be transformative, as it taps into the love and care that form the basis of all healthy relationships. By focusing on your emotions, you encourage the other person to move beyond the desire to win an argument and instead engage with the relationship itself.

Avoiding the Blame Game

One of the key benefits of the "When You Do 'A,' I Feel 'B'" approach is that it steers clear of blame and accusation. When you concentrate on expressing your own feelings, rather than listing the other person's infractions, you create a safer space for open communication. This helps the other person remain receptive and undefensive, as they don't feel attacked or overwhelmed by guilt and condemnation.

Identifying Your Emotions

To effectively use this formula, it's crucial to clearly identify and articulate your feelings. This may require some introspection and practice, as distinguishing between emotions like hurt, sadness, anger, frustration, fear, and anxiety can be challenging. Seek support from friends or a therapist to help you better understand and express your emotions. Remember, the goal is to convey your own experience, not to speculate about the other person's intentions or motivations.

Owning Your Feelings

While it's true that others can significantly influence our emotions, it's essential to take ownership of your feelings when communicating. Avoid statements like "You make me feel..." which can come across as blaming and provoke defensiveness. Instead, focus on expressing how you react to their behavior or words. Acknowledge your own sensitivities when appropriate, emphasizing that you're sharing your heart, not assigning fault.

Being Specific and Concrete

To ensure your message is clear and well-received, be specific when describing the behavior or attitude that's affecting you. Provide concrete examples and details, such as the exact words used or the tone of voice, to help the other person understand the situation. Avoid generalizations or vague accusations, which can lead to confusion and misunderstanding.

Embracing Vulnerability for Stronger Connections

Using the "When You Do 'A,' I Feel 'B'" formula is an act of courage and connection. By allowing yourself to be vulnerable and sharing your heart, you create opportunities for deeper understanding, empathy, and growth in your relationships. While it may feel risky at times, this approach can lead to more authentic and fulfilling connections with those who matter most.

Questions for Self-Reflection

1. In what relationships or situations do you find it most challenging to express your feelings openly and honestly?

2. How might using the "When You Do 'A,' I Feel 'B'" formula help you communicate more effectively in these contexts?

3. Reflect on a recent conflict or misunderstanding in one of your relationships. How might the conversation have unfolded differently if you had focused on expressing your emotions without blame?

4. What steps can you take to become more attuned to your own emotions and better able to articulate them clearly?

5. How can you create a safe and supportive environment that encourages open, vulnerable communication in your relationships?

Get Dr. Cloud's free guide on how to deal with the toxic people in your life. 

Dr. Cloud can help you live the life you were meant to live!