A client of mine asked how to communicate on a deeper level with someone showing vulnerability and intense emotions. here are some tips:
1. Listen: the greatest gift to offer anyone is to listen to them.
2. Check with yourself to make sure that your "Self-energy" is present and you are centered. you need to be totally present.
3. Validate their experience: statement like "yes, that must be hard/this is challenging". Don’t worry you can never magnify the feeling by offering validation.
4. Get curious and ask questions about their experience and feelings.
5. Clarify your objective: if you wanna connect on a deeper human level the objective is to be present for them, not to make them feel better.
6. Resist your urge to offer solutions: when a person is in their shutdown/fight or flight state, their defense mechanisms are active. offering safety to experience their own feelings is a precious gift.
7. Never interrupt the person, even if his pace of expression is slow.
8. Check for self-energy again, make sure you have compassion toward the person, and you are not thinking about your own experience at this moment or judging them.
9. Before saying anything, ask yourself how this would help, ask yourself wouldn't they already know that.
10. Ask how I can help: that turns on their creative part to start thinking about a solution without being pressured.
11. Throw ideas on the table without getting attached to any of them, "hey, you know what might sound interesting …doing so and so…, how do you feel about that?" test if they are ready to hear it or they want to express feelings, if the defense mechanism still active, do not suggest more ideas.
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12. Show appreciation for the discussion and sharing their vulnerability with you.
13. Now if you want to respond, check with yourself to see which part of you is responding. Here are some of the common parts that appear in these situations:
The "blamer: part: could manifests in phrases such as "you shouldn’t feel this way, your mom acts in this way because she cares for you" never help
The "there are bigger problems in the world" part: never help
The minimizer: "everybody is going through the same" "it is not that bigga deal" never help
The "I have a similar experience" part: doesn’t necessarily help, this conversation is not about you.
The "count your blessing" part: gratitude is great but not in this moment.
The "part: use with extreme cautious. People are different in solving issues, what worked for you might not work for them; also turning the discussion about you will not get you to the deep human connection you are aiming for.
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All of the above should be accompanied by the right body language and gestures.
This practice helps to be more present and self aware.