Today's post is from Dr. Gary Chapman (Author of 5 Love Languages). Hope you enjoy!
Have you ever been in a conversation where someone you care about opened up about their feelings or an issue they were dealing with, and you weren’t quite sure how to respond? If you’re human (and I’m guessing you are), you’ve probably felt the urge to say something prescriptive or profound. Or maybe you were stumped and stumbled through a hasty response.
It’s all too easy to respond with a brief “I know how you feel” or “You just need to . . .” because, hey, why else would they come to you?! It’s in our nature to want to be the hero for others, but let’s be honest . . . it can sometimes backfire. Why? Because people often don’t want to be told what to do and would rather you help them figure out the next best step for themselves.
When you help someone process through difficult emotions rather than prescribing a “thou shalt just,” it brings a sense of control and self-awareness they may be missing. And, honestly, it’s one of the most caring and kind things you can do.
The next time you’re tempted to jump to solutions, allow the other person to clarify the reason they came to you in the first place. You can do this easily and effectively by simply asking the following question with genuine concern:
“What do you need from me in this situation?”
This question removes the guesswork—minimizing the opportunity to share unsolicited advice—and forces the other person to search for and clarify what they actually are looking to receive from you, if anything. It may be that they need you to be a listening ear, a sounding board, or they may just need a hug and know that someone cares and is present with them in their trial. “What do you need from me in this situation?” has the potential to avoid wasting energy and help you move the conversation forward productively and with confidence.
It’s important to note that sometimes what the other person may “need” from you may conflict with your personal boundaries or even reality. You are not God and cannot be everyone’s savior—there are some things you just can’t be or do for someone. Be sure to set healthy boundaries, and if you find yourself playing a role in the “drama triangle,” then seek to switch it up. A healthy discussion will always set them up to be the hero of their own story, never the victim.
May you find this question helpful as you tend to the relationships you care most about in life.
Dr. Gary Chapman
Author of The 5 Love Languages®
Discover your love language at 5lovelanguages.com
Could you use a little creativity in speaking love and appreciation to others? Here are a few suggestions to inspire you:
· WORDS OF AFFIRMATION: “When I get out of the shower I write little notes (‘I love y’all’, ‘I hope your day is flawless’, ‘best family ever’, etc.) on the fogged up mirror with my finger. That way when the next person takes a shower, when they get out they have something sweet and/or funny to read on the mirror.” —Valley
· ACTS OF SERVICE: “I did his laundry. He didn’t get the hint to throw away the hole filled underwear. So I wrote a note: ‘Please put me out of my misery. Can’t you see I’m suffering?’ I know that he puts each pair away separately. When he got to the offending pair, he burst out laughing, and asked if I was trying to tell him something. We both laughed. Good for the soul.” —Michele
· RECEIVING GIFTS: “There is a cut flower you can purchase at almost any flower shop that lasts for weeks and weeks. It is easy to care for and beautiful. It comes in many colors. The flower is called alstroemerias. It is a fun reminder of the love we have for each other. We buy a new color every two weeks to keep things interesting.” —Scott
· QUALITY TIME: “I grabbed a cool old quilt to go in an old time truck that he likes, a few pillows, and filled the ice chest with some of his favorite random foods (i.e., chicken strips, guacamole, dessert). Then, we went back roading to find an open place to go ‘star gazing’ that we had been talking about doing for a year.” —Tosha
· PHYSICAL TOUCH: “Every night I give my wife a neck and back massage. She loves it, and I love giving them. It makes me feel close and connected.” —Dale
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