A quick google search on the topic will connect you with a long list of strategies on how to work with angry clients, civil rights disputes, workplace disagreements, student problem behavior, and more. What the list doesn’t provide are insightful and useful strategies for identifying and communicating our most intimate and/or valued thoughts, feelings, and emotions with the people closest to us.
What is a charged issue?
We define it as any emotional reaction stemming from communicating needs, wants, desires, or opinions. In essence, it is touching into what we believe and sharing that with others. When we do this we are vulnerable and risk rejection. Being vulnerable goes against our evolutionary instinct. But this instinct also holds us back from communing and creating relationships with others. We must move past this instinct in order to live happy, healthy, rich lives in communion with others.
Situations a charged issue might occur:
- Asking an employer for a raise, time off, or to change positions.
- Asking someone on a date.
- Communicating the feeling of rejection from a friend, partner, or parent.
- Explaining an important opinion or decision which one perceives as negative to another.
The sensation related to addressing and communicating charged issues:
- Tightness or tension in the shoulders or hands
- Clenched jaw
- Butterflies in the stomach
- Shortness of breath
Ineffective, yet common, strategies for communicating charged and emotional includes:
- Avoidance or distraction
- Indirect communication in the form of complaints and/or gossip.
- Emotional reactions in the form of yelling, shouting
- Righteousness – “I am right and good” “You are wrong and bad”
Applicable and effective strategies for communicating charged, emotional issues.
- Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and emotions as well as how they influence your actions. Having a contemplative meditation practice, journaling routine or close friend or counselor with whom you discuss and process your thoughts, feelings, and emotions supports the ability to pay attention and respond accordingly and with care.
- Take a tactical pause. Communicate with the other individual that you need some time to think before responding. Setting this boundary tells the other you are choosing not to react in the moment, but rather you value what they are saying and want to fully process before responding. A 5 minute “break” or walk around the block can be all you need for a smaller decision. Use the 24 – 48 hour rule for bigger, more charged issues.
- Consciously decide how to respond to a conflict or charged situation. After having recognized your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and how they are influencing your actions and taking a tactical pause, you can consciously decide how best to respond. Keep in mind the impact of what is being communicated by asking yourself the following questions: Is it in your best interest? The other persons? It is coming from a place of fear, anger, regret? A place of love and care for yourself or the other person involved? Simply put: it is going to benefit your own personal growth or that or the other person?
- After complementing thoughts, feelings, and emotions, taking the tactical pause, and deciding how to respond, remember to use “I” statements during the conversation. Talking from your own individual experience is safe, and makes no assumptions. Experiment with the sentence frame “When ___________ happens, I feel ____________”.
Want to Work on These Skills in More Depth?
JOIN CODY LEE AND CAITLIN HEGWOOD
OCTOBER 4TH, 11TH, 18TH, AND 25TH
5:30-7:00 PM IN KETCHUM
This workshop teaches skills to create healthy relationships in every context of life, whether seeking support and information to develop your relationship with your partner, family members or co-workers. There is something for everyone! We will focus on communication as a foundation for everything, mindful listening/ speaking skills, sexual communication, addressing charged issues, and developing a plan to co-create life.
September and October Movement and Meditation Updated Schedule