After my workshop last weekend, attendees asked for more information on how to use Soft Startup when bringing complaints to the Relationship Repair Counter…Today is the perfect opportunity for me to get out some more information about the importance of Soft Startup and How to Use It…
Daily, people get angry and harshly tell someone they live or work with about something they don’t like.
For example, yesterday a client was saying, “How could he not see that I needed him to and instead he was being selfish.” Before the session, the client had blown up and angrily complained to her husband that he should have been there for her.
How many of you can relate to this style of bringing up a problem in a harsh, angry, or critical manner? You are exasperated, annoyed, or hurt and it just spills out….
I have been there… and it usually leads to a fight or a problem. The complaint you are I have may be valid, but people do not respond well to anger. Each time I use a harsh start up style because of my own stress or frustration, I am later sooooo disappointed in the outcome! It’s totally not worth it and just leads to even more pain and frustration.
I can specifically recall a Friday evening a couple of years ago when I brought up a complaint to my husband without really thinking. I was not really that angry, but I did not remember to use soft startup. The result was a one-hour disagreement that could have been prevented!!!
After a long week of work and raising kids, I would have much rather enjoyed our Friday night. I remember thinking afterwards, “this is what my clients are going through on a regular basis, and it’s not fun. And I know better!”
Humans hear so much better when our words are soft and vulnerable. A soft request of “I feel lonely and discouraged, will you help me and spend time with me?” sounds so much different than shouting “Why aren’t you ever there for me?”
Love and secure attachment are nurtured by sharing soft and vulnerable feelings. Most humans respond well if someone tells them they are lonely or fearful or embarrassed. But if it comes out as anger, we pull away instead of responding with love…
Soft start up encourages people to have a softer style of bringing up complaints and concerns. Not surprisingly, research shows that couples with a soft start up style or more likely to have a successful relationship outcome in the long term…
Within the Gottman method of Couples Therapy, the way to bring up a complaint using soft start up style is to say, “When you _________, it makes me feel ___________(share a softer emotion, not anger or frustration), and what I need from you is ___________.”
I have my own soft start up worksheet that I developed as to how to bring your complaint to the Relationship Repair Counter. You can find it at this link. The steps include thinking about what resolution you would like and giving the benefit of the doubt. Tomorrow, I will walk through some examples for some of the steps that I have found have been helpful to many of my clients and followers.
Until then, just start with trying to stop and think about what your more vulnerable, softer feelings are and try communicating with those words instead! After all, Love Comes Softly…
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