It's trendy, it's a catchy phrase, and if you're not familiar with the concept touted on Oprah and across various other media outlets, now that you're reading this, chances are you'll hear or see the phrase soon. Love Languages: Proposed as the secret to fulfilling and lasting relationships.
Whether you buy into that concept or not, it was recently brought to my attention that my language could use some fine-tuning and that when I speak with passion, sometimes people hear how I am saying something rather than the content of what I am saying. In practice, I've been working on saying things with tact and thought rather than just reacting emotionally, so the message I am trying to convey doesn't get lost.
In early results, I've found better feedback and less charged conversations where people respond to what I am saying rather than the emotion that comes with it. The point is that even if you need to have an awkward conversation, putting more thought and less emotion into what you are saying may illicit a less negative response and, thus, produce a more meaningful conversation.
Here's an example: Conversation Starter:
Did you like this group session?
It was ok.
I almost fell asleep.
It was fine.
I didn't connect with the topic and discussion.
It's all the same response, but each will elicit a different outcome from the person you're speaking to. If you simply respond, it sucks or it was fine; it's hard for them to ask a follow-up question, not take it personally, or want to engage further. Same thing with I fell asleep. The difference with "I didn't connect with the topic" is it can open up a dialogue about why the group wasn't useful for you or how to better relate to you in the future. The approach and language used is far more productive than simply sharing an emotional or noncommittal response. Another example might be if your family asks you to come over for a barbecue, but you don't want to because they often drink heavily and smoke marijuana at family gatherings, which triggers you.
In this situation, which response would create the most favorable outcome:
I'm not coming because all you do is drink and use marijuana.
I hate family barbecues.
Thanks for inviting me. I'm not in a place in my recovery where I am comfortable around drinking and marijuana, but if you would like to grab a coffee or lunch sometime, I would look forward to that.
Respectful, honest language delivers your real intention and likely results in less relational conflict and more valuable conversations that benefit all parties involved.
Try it. Think before you speak so you share intentionally and enjoy the positive results you create.
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