Sunday, September 6, 2015

Consequences and Nondefensive Communication

Another great book worth having at your fingertips for frequent reference is "Emotional Blackmail" by Susan Forward.  The author states that "Nondefensive communication always works!" And she is absolutely correct.

Over the past few months, I have worked hard at communicating more effectively with the aspies in my life, especially with the ones who tend to be rather angry.  My getting defensive, yelling, crying, seeking to argue, justify, or give reasonable explanations, only escalated problems.  Two major changes, however, have impacted my life immensely.

1.). Consequences.  Set a boundary line around issues and areas that need help, and start protecting your time, energy, heart, and life.  Be calm and clear.  After asking nicely that your aspie take your feelings into consideration (which they likely won't and/or just won't know how to manage such a feat), state the consequence for failing to take care of your comfort or health.  "I feel scared.  If you do not stop speeding on these dangerous roads, I will find another way home from the event."  "My pain level is bad this week.  If you do not put the in-laws in a hotel when they come to visit, I will go stay in a hotel myself until they leave." "I'm not willing to be yelled at. I'm leaving." Sound too harsh? An NT would not as likely need such directness along with a consequence, after explaining one's emotional turmoil or health problems that are affected in a given scenario, but your aspie might.

2.) In an argument, use Nondefensive answers only and refuse to justify, argue, defend, or explain yourself.   For memory's sake, the book gives the acronym JADE (don't Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain).  I prefer more grim terms, and use the acronym DEAD (Don't Explain, Argue, or Defend).  Because if there will be no chance of reaching mutual understanding, the sooner the argument is killed the better!
Most importantly, one should commit to memory a list of Nondefensive answers:

"I'm sorry you're upset."
"I understand how you might see it that way."
"You're entitled to your opinion."
"This is the way it has to be."
"I need to think about this more."

and one more time . . . The one phrase that can be used in any conversation that will bring an argument to a close . . . "I'M SORRY YOU ARE UPSET." (aka "I'm sorry you feel that way.")

Respond with that one phrase and always remember your goal for heated arguments.


Don't Explain, Argue, or Defend!  

What?  You disagree?

I'm sorry you feel that way.  ;)


  1. Thank you for the reminder. I do try to use this technique and then i slip back to old habits.

  2. Yay, oh so true! Being defensive or arguing a point doesn't work at all but then what happens when you give the consequences and they accuse you of being so nasty/hurtful and becoming angry for a few days. Around and around we go! What a dance we lead.

  3. my blog

  4. Thanks for your honest, sensible posts.

  5. Thank you so much for writing this blog - please, please keep at it!! Stories like yours are my lifeline right now. I love your tips for arguments. I think I have the most trouble with consistently responding to my husband's outbursts in the way that I know is helpful - such as how you've described. He has recently taken to storming off in public situations which is of course extremely embarrassing and disruptive. I find it so unacceptable that when I confront him about it my own anger is running high. Ugh.

  6. I can't remember exactly which book shared the example of the husband causing a loud scene in public. But the beautiful example was that the wife quietly removed herself from the scene and allowed him to make a complete fool of himself, without it rattling her, and without being in the middle of it.

    My mistake yesterday (see my blog post "Speaking of Consequences" 10/4/15) was to share my feelings at a horribly WRONG time. His mind was on something else--he was focused completely on one particular topic. And there's no way his brain could then switch topics and be able to deal with my feelings or concerns about a different topic. Also, children were in the car. VERY VERY BAD MOVE on my part. The only chance I ever have to have my feelings considered, is when we are alone, and he is not in the middle of concentrating on anything else. Generally, right before we go to sleep is the ideal time to discuss difficult topics. (But only if he's not too sleepy. He actually falls asleep while I'm talking. Often!) Or on a dinner date, just the two of us.

  7. Thank u so much for this blog! Recently, I had an abscess operated upon due to which I was forced to rest. Husband went and purchased fish (which he has never prepared) and then tells me he purchased it. I flat out told him that I will not prepare it. No explanations given. Now this is the first time I have done something like this in my life.

    Was really surprised that he prepared it - no questions asked!

    Maybe I need to get over my co dependence!