Have you ever tried to tell someone something that you knew they would be hurt by or take the wrong way? Of course you have, and so have I. Being misunderstood is a common pariah. We all hate it and yet we often can’t finish a sentence without the other person: falling apart, or jumping in, or getting defensive, or even running away. How do you get someone to actually hear what you have to say? In a previous article, “How to Say Anything to Anyone”, I disclosed the secret of showing concern for the person you are speaking to and had having compassion for them. This time I share authorship with my beautiful wife Carol who came up with “taking the power out” of what you are going to say so that the other person doesn’t get defensive but listens and actually hears what you intended them to hear –the way you meant it.
I will give a couple of examples from my practice.
The man I am working with is trying to live his life through his son. His son is a gifted athlete but he is being pushed by Dad beyond what is healthy. Dad is coaching the team. Dad says he is coaching the team because he loves his son. The boy is being pushed so hard he hates soccer and hates his dad. I come in and say, “This may sound like I am taking your son’s side, sticking my nose into your family business, or even being obnoxious, but I see your son hating soccer and hating you right now because you are pushing him to do something he doesn’t really want to do. I can see that you love coaching and worry if you could still coach if your son wasn’t on the team. I know you love your son but you are putting your relationship with him in jeopardy. Your son wants you to be interested in him, not just in how well he plays soccer, and though you are not saying that to him in words, that is the message he is receiving. I hear that you are feeling unappreciated for all that you do for the boy but you are giving him love in a way that is sending the opposite message. He is not ungrateful, he is hurt and he feels badgered.
The taking the power out part is, “This may sound like…” and, “He is not ungrateful…” It is saying what you think the objections, conclusions, the person is likely to jump to that you do not intend and clarifies that your intentions are not that, they are to “help the situation”, “give some constructive feedback”, “show your love”, and so forth.
Here is another example from very early in my counseling career. The couple had been married a long time and had been poor most of their marriage. His love language was gifts – her’s was not. For her birthday he bought her a beautiful set of diamond ear rings. She was very angry. Her response to him could have been anger, rage, disappointment and even “why don’t you love me?” She expected him to feel rejected by her response to him, and him to see her as ungrateful. So she said, “I know this is going to sound ungrateful and you might feel rejected but that is not my intention, I want to help you love me in a way I can feel loved. I want you to know that I appreciate the thought, but the reality is that we can’t afford the ear rings, and I am not a gifts person anyway – all I really want is for you to clean the gutters”. When she said he said you may feel rejected and I may come across as ungrateful, but that is not my intention… she had taken the power out of what came next, She was showing concern and compassion as well.
It is amazing how well this works:
1) Consider your message
2) What objections, conclusions, or affronts do you expect from the other person?
3) Say up front that you know this might come across as …but what you are trying to do is…
4) Be concerned for them ( how it affects or might affect them)
5) Show compassion in your delivery and your message
There are probably people who will jump to the conclusion that what you tell them you are not doing is exactly what you say you are not trying to do but I have yet to meet one. It is a common fear however. A tone of concern and compassion really makes this work.
Sound simple? It is. Sound like work? It is! But it works. Okay now go out and practice. It is only through practice that new tools become more than interesting information and become life changing new ways of being.
When you are working on this feel free to drop me an e-mail and I will be willing to give you some help for free. I look forward to hearing from you.

Author's Bio: 

James & Carol Hendrix are marriage & family therapists specializing in helping people get their life back from drugs, alcohol, mental health issues, emotional issues and relationship issues.
They are especially good with clients and their families who struggle with such issues - getting the right help and helping all involved understand the issues.
They can be reached at Jim@AdvancedRelationshipTraining.com. Or visit http://www.AdvancedRelationshipTraining.com.