The first challenge in dealing with the emotions another is to give the emotion space and the sender of the clear to make that his signal is perceived - without a poisonous “but”.


The transmitter needs security!

Just the news that something has arrived is not enough. Because as strange as it sounds, the other person still has no idea what exactly, i.e. which one message exactly, has reached you.

However, not only does it require you to be sure that you have received its signal, but it also needs to be sure about what you have received and that this is exactly what it has sent. As long as he does not have this security, he will continue!

Speak emotions directly

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The next step, then, must be to clear the transmitter of the emotion, which is exactly what has arrived. And this can only be achieved by appealing directly to the emotion!

Sounds complicated? Is not it. It's just unfamiliar. Especially for those of you who believe in self-awareness.

Why do not you just say it to him?

In my seminars and coaching sessions, I repeatedly find that the direct response of an emotion is absolutely unfamiliar to many participants and is almost perceived as an imposition.

For example, if I'm confronted with an angry participant customers ask: "Why don't you just tell him that you can see that he is angry?", then I almost always get the same answer: "But it is clear that he is angry. Everyone can see that!"

There are no self-explanations!

And unfortunately that is exactly a mistake. There is - I cannot repeat it often enough - in interpersonal Communication not a matter of course!

Let's recap that Jack, the little neurologist in our Head, sends a message due to a touch on his value system. We call this message an emotion. In order for him to stop doing this, he must receive an unmistakable response signal that his message has been understood technically and in terms of content. An “I understand!” So it's not enough, never, not enough!

The word “But”

An extremely important point that comes into play both when expressing and when recognizing emotions is the use - or rather not use - of the word “but”. What always fascinates me in my seminars is how hard we have drilled to use this inconspicuous-sounding word:

Adversative or relative?

You can already sense that the list of sentences in which the “but” creeps in could be extended indefinitely. It's just inflationary and sloppy how we use the poor little word "but".

Language is supposed to serve understanding, and if we use “but” for everything and everything, then we will easy misunderstood. Perhaps a look at the German grammar is good at this point and can help. The "but" is a conjunction that can be used in our language in two meanings:

  1. adversative (ie the opposite of what has just been said)
  2. relatively (thus relativizing the above).

“And” instead of “But”

Both are fine and good and in many cases even desirable, and neither are helpful in emotional communication. We do not want to be understood as either adversative or relativistic. We want to see that what he sends is understood. This means that we will almost always be allergic to the “but”.

Fortunately, there is another conjunction in the German language that is used to juxtapose the same sentences. It is much better at letting Jack know that we sincerely understand and recognize his emotions. It is - you guessed it long ago - the word "and".

Two statements instead of conjunction

The whole thing becomes particularly effective if you also omit the “and”, instead make a point and simply put two statements in two sentences instead of telling everything in one sentence.

Our Brain is extremely well trained and correspondingly sensitive in listening. It recognizes and feels the difference immediately. Do an experiment on this and leave the following three sentences alone act:

The change in subconsciousness

The difference does not appear dramatic at first and is hardly noticeable. But if you let the words sink in, if you listen more closely while speaking the three variants, you will notice that something is changing in a very subtle way. Feel how with each sentence the recognition of anger becomes clearer and more believable?

Or how about giving up the word “but” when expressing the emotion of joy:

Do not relativize positive statements with “but”

Here the difference is already clearly recognizable, especially in the third example, in which the two statements are formulated in separate sentences. The more isolated the emotional statement or recognition is made, the less it is relativized, the sooner our counterpart will recognize that it is meant seriously.

For the important recognition of emotions this means: There is the feedback “The signal has arrived and has been understood”, which means for Jack that the signal can now be switched off!

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