“How Does That Make You Feel?” (and Why You Want to Know)
Anyone who finds that question annoying, raise your hand.
Thank you. I know. Me too.
Of course, as a counselor I ask that question a lot.
While asking for the sake of asking, or just being nosy, is guaranteed to turn all but the biggest drama queen off, there is a legitimate reason for asking someone about how they’re feeling.
And, if asked correctly, it can be one of the most useful questions in a conversation.
Because what we think, and how we feel, are two of the most direct lines to what we actually believe to be true.
So? Think about how powerful it might be if you could help uncover what the important people in your life are thinking or feeling. A kid. A loved-one. A co-worker. How about a customer?
If someone tells you or shows you what they feel about something, they’ve essentially told you what they believe to be true about the situation. This, in turn, can help you get at not just the problem – “You didn’t call when you were going to be late – you don’t care about me!” Or, “You lied! You said the part would be here Monday!”
At this point a lot of people would become defensive or shut down to protect themselves or try to “escape” somehow.
This is exactly where you want to press into the feeling and give them a chance to tell you what they believe to be true.
Because right at this exact moment you have the opportunity to turn something potentially destructive into something that creates a closer connection and actually builds trust.
Anyone you know that would like deeper trust or a better connection with a friend, child, spouse, or customer?
Yep. Me too.
Anyway, once you hear the feeling word, one strategy you can try is this: “You have the idea I don’t care about you,” or, “You think I lied about the delivery date.”
See, when you restate the other person’s feeling as a thought or an idea, and they confirm that’s correct, two things happen. First, you send the clear message that you get it, and you’re listening. Trust me when I tell you most people don’t get it, and they usually aren’t listening. Second, you begin to open the door to problem solving as long as:
You don’t get defensive or, just as bad, offer some lame explanation that will, at this point, sound exactly like a poor excuse.
Once they tell you how they feel, assuming they don’t have to get more off their chest (and they very well might), you can offer your sincere apology which, by the way, never ever includes the words “I’m sorry IF I,” but only the words “I’m sorry that I made you feel like I don’t care about you,” or, “I’m sorry I overestimated the delivery time – that was totally my mistake and I totally understand you were counting on it based on that promise.”
Then, and only then, are you possibly ready to move on and solve the problem.
Until then, like they say in the mob movies, “fuhgeddaboudit.”
If you need help with a relationship that’s stuck on communication, or you’d like help with customer service, sales, or some other business communication issue, please call or e-mail me. I can help.
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