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Mini Relationship Tip: De-Fuse.

You know how it goes. The conversation starts out OK, but all of a sudden it is like someone lit a fuse and set off a fireworks display of defensiveness, blame, lashing out, accusation, icy silence or hurled insults.

Want to know how keep that fuse from being lit, especially around this holiday time? How to De-Fuse an upset or conflict?  How to cool it all down enough to restore some rationality, create some space for some real communication and connection?

I thought you might.

It is unchecked reactivity that is the highway robbery of connection.  Reactivity can sideswipe and derail any well-meaning communication. By De-Fusing reactivity, the other person will feel like you still “have their back” rather than have suddenly become the aggressor or their opponent.

Some of these 12 ways will work well for colleagues and friends, others for your partners and family.

They are generalizations, since all of us humans are different and unique, but for the grand majority, they hold true.

These will work at the first sign of reactivity – yours or theirs. And it goes without saying that none of these will work unless they are 100% genuine and from your heart.

12 Ways To De-Fuse, this holiday season:

Pick one, or try all 12!

(You can sing along, if you’d like: “On the 12th day of De-Fusing, my true love gave to me …”)

1.  Start With Appreciation: It may not always be the first thing on your mind, but make it a practice to have it be the first thing out of your mouth. Tell ’em what you honestly love about them, what they did for you, said to you, how they moved you, etc. You’ll not only activate your ability to be grateful, but you and others will rise in value and worth in your eyes.

2.  Be Gentle. A full-frontal assault on someone, all guns blaring is usually not that effective, unless your aim is a knock-down, drag-out fight. If your aim is healthy communication, start with some vulnerability, with your throat bared, so to speak. This will set the stage for you both to be kind and considerate to each other.

3.  Repeat It Back. What you hear is often a far cry from than what person intended.  Since language is an approximation, we all interpret the same words in often vastly different ways.  A good rule of thumb is to repeat back to someone what you think they just said: “So, here’s what I think I just heard you say. You are feeling/thinking…” Stopping to clarify in this way can save you so much of the pain that comes from the build-up of repeated misunderstanding.

Especially effective with men:

4.  Consider Your Timing. Can he focus on you right now or would you do better to wait until later?

5.  Acknowledgment. Tell him some way he has touched you, impressed you, something he has done well.  Thank him. This opens him up to let down his guard and hear you.

6.  Give Him Space. Sometimes guys need to take a long time to answer you, or they need to go away for a while and figure it out.  If you give him space, he will come back with something great.

7.  Give Him A Way to Win. Consider posing your communication in the form of a problem he can solve or you can solve together, rather than as something he isn’t doing right. Guys come in to their element when there is a way for them to “win”, to show up as a hero, and when there is something that they can fix.

Especially effective with women:

8.  Make Physical Contact With Her, like a touch or a hug. Physical contact is grounding and calming like nothing else, and reminds her of your presence. She will stop worrying that you are outa there, and will then be open to hear what you have to say.

9.  Remind Her That You Are Not Leaving. In a highly emotional and heated situation, especially if you walk away or become emotionally distant, women can become triggered and feel like you are leaving for good.

10. What Do You Love About Her? Is it the curve of her neck? Her rapier wit? Her grace? Tell her. Often in an upset, she may feel that you no longer love her (even if you said it earlier in the day), or that because you are angry, she is losing your love. Is there limit to the number of times you can tell a woman you love her, or what you love about her? Um, no.

And, for all humans, again…

11. Say It Differently. If someone is responding as though they haven’t heard you, no matter how many times you have said it before, THEY are not stupid, YOU have not said it in a WAY they can hear. Try using different words, tone or intention.

12. Go For Humour. For example, if your Aunt Mildred always badgers you about why you aren’t married yet, or why YET AGAIN you didn’t bring home a prospective partner, you can tell her something like, “Listen, I know you are excited to hear about the scores of marriage offers I’ve had to turn down this month and all the love letters I’ve framed on my wall. And I know you want to discuss what to cook for the eight suitors I brought, but let’s find something else to talk about, OK?” Adjust humour and content accordingly…

Enjoy – and for extra points, tell me which one worked best!


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