A popular question that folks bring to Effectiveness Training is, “what on earth can I do when someone else’s behavior is getting under my skin?”
They’ll usually follow their inquiry with a description of a situation that goes something like this: “whenever I go out my husband is so messy that he makes our house look like the scene of a robbery” or “my workmate, Cheryl has started sneaking off way too early for her macramé class and it’s really getting on my nerves” or “my son, Christian plays hideously loud music from a band called “Megadeath” while I am trying to teach my meditation class in the lounge room…” Most of us would agree that these situations require attention but there can be a fair bit of uncertainty about where to begin. Generally people don’t want to shriek like a banshee to get their needs met but they don’t want to allow others to walk all over them either. So in Effectiveness training we explore ways to create change respectfully and the strategy we focus on is the delivery of a three-part message:
- A non-blameful description of the behaviour
- Our primary feelings about the behaviour
- The concrete effects that the behaviour has on us
Non-blameful descriptions of behaviour require us to describe the facts, not our story. For example, “you’re so messy, you should be a farm animal” is different to “when I come home from a seminar and there are 22 beer bottles in the kitchen and 8 pizza boxes on the couch…” When we make sure that our rundown of people’s behaviour is meticulous we minimise the chance of bickering.
Our feeling is the sensation we have in response to the experience: anxiety, fear, embarrassment, helplessness, hurt, sadness or frustration. For example, “I feel overwhelmed.”
Effects are concrete consequences that we don’t want to experience. Sharing the effect helps folks see how their behaviour blocks us from meeting our needs. Effects might hurt us physically, make us tired or cause pain and discomfort. To continue our example, “…it is difficult for me to sit down or find a place to prepare food.”
Let’s put it all together:
“Husband, when I come home from a seminar and there are 22 beer bottles in the kitchen and 8 pizza boxes on the couch, I feel overwhelmed. It is difficult for me to prepare food or find a place to sit down.”
“Cheryl, when you leave early to go to macramé I have to stay longer to get our work done and I sometimes miss my train. I feel frustrated about the impact this has on my time.”
“Christian, when Megadeath is played at that volume during my meditation class I find it difficult to concentrate. I am worried that I am not giving the class my full focus.”
You have my word that a three-part message will often prompt a turn-around. However, it doesn’t always work and there are further skills for handling folks that are resistant or defensive. But I would be barking up the wrong tree to try and squish the entire Effectiveness Training into one blog! If the material sings to you, you might like to explore www.gordontraining.com or www.etia.org.
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From the desk of…
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