Learn => Reflect => Identify & Adjust => Integrate => Act
Relationship Tips You Want to Know
At Least: a phrase often used in an attempt to empathize yet it actually has the opposite effect. When you use this phrase in response to someone sharing a difficult experience you minimize the importance of their feelings. The statement “at least” is actually a shaming phrase. Many people use it with good intentions thinking they are offering up a possible rainbow in the midst of their storm yet it actually has the opposite effect.
For example, I recently had a drowning experience and a very well intending receiver of my traumatic story responded with: Well at least you didn’t die. This statement, along with any other “at least” statement evokes a sense of shame in the other person as if to say “hey it’s not that big of a deal” rather than validating their experience when a receiver of a sender’s story chooses to use an “at least” statement they undermine the senders experience. Watch out for this disconnecting phrase in future dialogue if your desire is to deepen connection.
The phrase “at least” is also used as a diversion technique that takes the attention off the original sender of message and flips it onto the receiver. For example, after a sender shares a message of how her child didn’t get into a college that she had her heart set on and how sad she was for her the receiver responds with: “Well, at least she gets to go to college, I never had the opportunity to go to college” and launches into her own life drama.
As mentioned in the stress relief tip a few weeks ago there are 4 phases to effective communication based on empathy and validation instead of 1-Uping, comparison and narcissistic dialogue…What? It’s not all about me, myself and I? My ideas? My perceptions? My ideals, beliefs, needs and wants? I thought in my first marriage that my spouse was supposed to meet all my needs and rescue me from many of my own internal insecurities, fears and self-doubts. Nope, not if you want to create conscious, meaningful relationships that can withstand the storms of life. I am deeply grateful to God for a second chance to get over myself and begin again in my current marriage of 8 years.
- Identify a specific time when you have flipped a conversation into your own story.
- When you are in “dialogue” with another person observe how aware you are of your ability to step into the other person’s shoes and see things from their perspective.
- Watch the stress go down in your conversations as you expand your ability to sum up what the other person is saying, make a statement of validation and empathy and release.
- When was the last time you said the phrase: “At least…”
Explore Adding Value to Your Relationship:
- Observing the times you say the phrase “at least” in conversations this week. Pause and flip your energy to create statements of empathy: “Wow, I can see how you would feel sad and frustrated in that situation, that makes sense to me.”
- Are you a conversation bully or thief? Be conscious of your role as a receiver in a conversation. The receiver’s role is to listen, validate and empathize. Too often our EGO will steal the sender’s role as we dominate and bully the original sender by “1-Uping” “You shoulding” or “At leasting” the original sender. Those three behaviors by the way flow from childhood wounds that are manifesting themselves in our adult “earth suit.”
- Stay in your lane as the receiver when another person approaches you as the sender of information. Respect them as you desire to be respected. Just because you express that you get the other person’s perspective does not mean you have to agree with it.
- The statement “you make sense to me” creates an instant container for safety within the conversation and offers the natural space for solutions to emerge. When you offer the statement “you make sense of me” it literally unlocks our deepest desire to know that we are seen and that we matter which creates an instant bond that allows differences to exist in a space of acceptance.
YES I Want Support Relationship Resources:
- Watch the video by Brene Brown that offers a fun example of why using “at least” diminishes value exchange in dialogue and compromises positive connection in the relationship you care about:
- I want to explore 3 Sessions of 1:1 Life Coaching with Lauren: time to clear out my internal castle of sabotaging programs for personal excellence personally and professionally this Fall. Email => info@LaurenEMiller.com (or reply to this email) to inquire. In Person: Zoom On-line Virtual or Phone.
Relationship Tip: Instead of “1-Uping” in your conversations practice validation and empathy. When people reveal vulnerability in conversation by using words that project the message to the sender that “you make sense to me” it flips the dynamic from an opposing force to a partnership…you step onto the same team where connection thrive.