DON'T REACT, RESPOND WITH S.E.T.
Do you ever find yourself "talking at your child" as they are "talking at you" and all the while, no one is listening? Do you, at times, have contention flare up in a discussion even before the completion of the first sentence?
Most likely you are caught up in a cycle of conflict where the contentiousness of past arguments is easily reignited by a word, a look or even a sigh. "Buttons are pushed" on both sides.
Before we can make things better, we have to stop making them worse.
Most of us know it is not effective to be intolerant. If we reflect in an unbiased way on past contentious situations, we will likely see that both parties were contributing to the problem.
Can you see how being authoritative, invalidating, or critical toward your child, no matter what she or he just did; will only make your family life worse -- or do you think that when he or she is difficult, that you have a "right" to respond with similar behavior -- that she or he "deserves it"?
Doesn't it make sense to stop this? Of course it does.
Someone has to be first. Someone has to stop their half of the contention. This means someone has to convince themselves that it is more important to stop than to continue on -- that stopping is not losing or giving in -- that it is advancing.
To stop our half of the cycle is not hard. We only need to interrupt our own negative responses. We need to recognize how our body language, facial expressions, and voice tone are impacting others. We need to inhibit our urges to do the things that we later realize are contributing to the tension in our relationship.
The video linked below is a two and a half minute course on how to stop the cycle of conflict by re-programming our instinctual responses -- and how to respond in a compassionate and empathetic way.
Someone has to be first! Right? And we are the ones with the greatest emotional maturity. Right?
Tools to reduce conflict / 2:38 minutes
SET Communication Model by Jerold J. Kreisman, MD.
S.E.T. is a simple and effective communication formula for when you need to express a different perspective to someone in a sensitized state.
S.E.T. stands for support, empathy, and truth. The formula calls for to making a support statement followed by an empathy statement, which is then followed by a true statement; truth being the counter perspective that you want to communicate.
Support, Support statement conveys that you care about your person and that you want the best for them.
"Andrew, you're my son and I'll always be there for you. I want your last year high school to be fun, You've earned it"
Empathy Empathy statements let the person know that you've heard them and fully and completely grasp what they are concerned about.
"I understand that going to this concert its rally important and its an opportunity to get to know Rachel better. After having saved your money up. I can't imagine how frustrated you are feeling tonight."
Truth. Truth statements lay out your perspective and ties back the support and empathy statement as much as possible.
"Your father and I have to stay at the hospital with your Grandma tonight and we need you to be home to take care of your sister - she is very upset."