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.  ;)