How to Talk About COViD in 2 Simple Steps
With all of the COViD stress, fears of contracting the virus, tempers flaring, passports, masks, vaccines, social isolation, feelings of loneliness, aggression, anger, defensiveness, Facebook fights, feeling attacked and on edge ~ EVERYONE ~ and I mean ~ E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E ~ is feeling the weight of this pandemic.
I’m pretty sure NOT a single person is feeling exempt from the toll of COViD.
You might be mad that people are not getting vaccinated fast enough. Why don’t they just get the shot?
You might be irate that your freedom of choice is being taken away. Don’t you see where this is going?
On and on and on it goes. Is there even an end in sight?
I’ll be honest with you. I’m EXHAUSTED!! UGHHH…..
It’s all just TOO MUCH.
So, how in the H-E- Double Hockey sticks (LL) are we gonna get through this?
I don’t have all the answers ~ obviously. But I can tell you what would make it easier.
Open and honest conversation that comes from the heart, not from the ego-mind.
Conversation is a back and forth, reciprocal communication that includes talking and listening. When I worked at the university, I ran a Stress and Anxiety Management Group and one of our most popular activities that we did was called ~ Do You Hear What I See. Participants would partner up and 1 person would look at a simple picture of a tree, house, dog or a geometric shape. They would describe the picture without saying what it is, and their partner would draw what person #1 was describing. We would use 2 conditions: 1 were the drawer would NOT ask questions, and 1 were the drawer would ask clarifying questions. And, which pictures do you think were most accurate?
The point is, clear and connected conversation has 2 parts: talking and listening. I know, I know, this is pretty simple right? But did you know there are two ways to SEND information (talking) and two ways to RECEIVE information (listening)?
2 WAYS TO SEND INFORMATION
1. Report Talk:
Today on Facebook I see a LOT of report talk.
Report talk is where you talk at someone. You tell others what you think, feel, your opinions, ideas, and perspectives, without acknowledging the other person; without connecting or engaging. Report talk is all about you and not about the other person.
For example, if you say, “I had a hard day at work”, and the other person gives report talk, they might say, “Well, I had a hard day at work, and this is what happened”.
Report talk is where you give your side of things without clarifying, empathizing, or trying to understand the other persons’ perspective. Report talk does not acknowledge the other person.
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of report talk, you likely felt unheard, invalidated, or disrespected. You probably felt railroaded.
2. Connected Talk:
In a healthy, attuned, connected conversation, when you say, “I had a hard day at work”, the responder is most likely going to: empathize “That sounds tough”, validate “For sure… your day sounded super busy”, or ask questions “What was it that made your day so challenging?”.
The responder lets you know that they heard you BEFORE they launch into their day. And, for sure, BEFORE they launch into suggestions, problem-solving, telling you what to do, or trying to help you fix it.
When you are in a connected conversation, you will feel heard, seen, understood, and validated. Even if the other person disagrees with you. Because, connected talk is not about agreement, it’s about understanding. You will know your are in a connected conversation if there is an even give and take flow.
2 WAYS TO RECEIVE INFORMATION
1. Listening to Respond:
The same thing goes for listening. Listening with the intention of responding means you are not actually hearing the other person. Because chances are…. if you’re listening to respond, you’re probably in your head, thinking up a rebuttal, response, what you might want to say, what you don’t want to say, thinking about being witty or wise, or something else.
If you’re listening only enough to respond, then you’re going to be highly distracted by your own internal dialogue so that you won’t be able to hear the other person. Well, maybe you will HEAR them, but are you listening intently enough to truly UNDERSTAND what they’re saying. For example, if I ask my son to take out the garbage while he’s on a device and he says “yah, yah”, and I ask him to repeat back what I just said ~ he might be able to repeat it back word for word, just like a parrot, but has he truly processed that he needs to actually get up and do something? Probably not.
2. Listening to Understand:
Listening to understand takes a lot of energy and focus. It means you’re consciously paying attention. This is much easier to do if all distractions are put away. Put your phone down, stop scrolling, pause the tv, turn the music down, and look at the person.
Looking at the person helps you to better focus on their words, and eye contact will help you to connect on a much deeper level, so you can understand not just what the other person is saying, but you can also decipher the emotions they might be too scared or uncomfortable to share.
In Counselling 101 I learned FELOR – face the person, make eye contact, lean in, have an open posture and an open mind, relax and repeat back to the other person what you think they said.
The R, in FELOR is sooooo important. Circling back to what I shared earlier, talking to connect includes repeating back to the person what you THINK you heard them say and asking for clarification. This way, you’ll know if the two of you are on the same page and have a shared understanding.
I can’t tell you how many fights this simple technique has saved in my marriage. Turns out, hubby and I were disagreeing over travel plans, not because we had a difference of opinion, but because we were not understanding each other, and we were talking about 2 different things.
OK, there you have it. The 2 simple steps ~ Connected Talk + Listen to Understand ~ so that you can communicate in a clear and open way so that you can better connect and come to common understanding, even if you disagree with one another. These two steps make it easier to accept a difference of opinion.
So tell me, how are you going to use these strategies? Drop a message and fill me in.