A helpful technique for communicating boundaries in a way that can minimize conflict and defensiveness.
Three steps to construct your statement:
- When you [Describe the BEHAVIOUR]
- I feel [EMOTION] (See list of emotions for help choosing)
- Would you be willing to [Desired BEHAVIOUR]
Something that you can see, feel, hear, etc. Observations NOT interpretations
Your friend walks out of the room in mid-sentence while you are talking to them. You feel hurt and mad and disrespected.
SAY IT LIKE THIS
- When you walk out of the room when I am talking (Yes! You are describing behaviour that you observed, not interpreting it)
- I feel hurt (Yes!, that is an emotion, not a thought. It is an statement about yourself, not about the other person)
- What would help is/Would you be willing to stay present while I am talking (Yes! You are describing the behaviour you would like to have occur)
Important! ==> The other person can respond with “YES”, or “NO”, or “I need to think about it”.
If it is a “No”, then move to the next step – you decide the consequences of this behaviour. You can go away and think about it, and now it is up to you to decide how you will deal with a negative response.
For more on this, see the Nonviolent Communication process Developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD.