David Burns, MD has contributed many books to our understanding of how our thoughts and feelings can be managed to change our moods. His method for effectively communicating is excellent especially in situations that are difficult, “heated” or in conflictual conversations in the work place – or at home. The key here is to use a method below which you can genuinely express. If it seems inauthentic to the listener, it is not effective. Practice!
1. The Disarming Technique – You find some truth in what the other person is saying, even if it seems totally unreasonable or unfair.
2. Empathy- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see the world through their eyes.
- Thought empathy: You paraphrase the other person’s words
- Feeling empathy: You acknowledge how he or she is probably feeling.
3. Inquiry: You ask gentle, probing questions to learn more about what the other person is thinking and feeling.
4. I “feel” statements: Shift to “I feel”, e.g. “I feel confused by this…” rather than “you” statements. i.e. “you’re wrong” or “You make me furious!”
5. Stroking: You find something genuinely positive to say to the other person even in the heat of battle. You convey an attitude of respect, even though you may feel very angry with the other person.
*Copyright © 1991 by David D. Burns, MD. Revised, 1992.