In P.E.T., the Confrontation Skill is mostly about sending Confrontive I-Message. The three parts of Confrontive I-Message start with a non-blameful description of behavior, then tangible effect on me, and lastly my feelings.
When we talked about the feelings, parent participants often felt short of vocabularies. Angry and franstructed are the most often used words. But are we angry or frustrated? What is below the tip of iceberg?
“My daughter was clearly late for school morning but still eating breakfast very slowly.”
“Hurry up!” “The school bus is leaving. I won’t send you to school if you miss the bus!”
Ordering. Threatening. Two of the twelve communication roadblocks demonstrated.
“What was your feeling?
“You are angry about your daughter being late for school.”
“Right. I was so rushed!”
“You were in a rush to go out.”
“No! I felt rush for her. She would miss her classes.”
“You were afraid that your daughter may lag behind if they miss classes.”
“No, they won’t miss a whole lot in second grade, right? But I don’t want her to become irresponsible for everything.”
“You really want her to grow responsible for herself.”
“Yes! For herself, and eventually for her family, for her job. I can’t always be with her. She will have her own family and her own living. I won’t be able to support her forever.”
“You are worried about her future.”
“Maybe. If she is always late for school now and she doesn’t care, how can she become independent, responsible and dependable?”
“You feel it is really important for her to learn being responsible from now.”
“Of course! What can I do to help her grow? Ok, I won’t lecture her. I won’t order her around. What options I have?”
Worried. Afraid. Confused.
We can continue going deep, for the drivers behind angry.
After our talk, the mom didn’t feel angry for her daughter’s behavior any more. She told me that being late for school wasn’t the key point. She wasn’t angry about that. She was just putting on an “angry” mask so that she could get her daughter to do things quickly. She wanted to modify her daughter’s behavior now for the sake of future. She didn’t have many options or tools to use. She felt worried and confused.
Her conclusion was, every time before she sends the confrontive I-Message, she owes herself some time of active listening — to learn about her own true feeling so that the communication could possibly be effective.
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