In human relationships, there are 5 types of human responses.
1. Instructive – deciding what the other person needs, e.g. information / advice
2. Questioning – providing direction on what to talk about
3. Judgemental – your opinion about whether they are right or wrong
4. Supportive – providing comfort and stabilisation
Most people are pretty good at the first four, which puts you in a one-up position. The last one puts in in the same level ground, because you don’t know what the other person needs.
5. Empathic – you reflect, respect, understand and enable.
“What a horrible day I’ve had! Work was awful and things just went downhill from there.”
1. You really should think about getting another job.
2. Was it your boss who was micromanaging you again?
3. Well, you shouldn’t have stayed up so late to talk to your mum. You’re obviously sleep deprived, which is affecting your work.
4. That sounds awful. Let’s go get a beer.
5. Wow, sounds like you’ve had quite a rough day. What happened?
We learn about the different response styles during volunteer training for Samaritans, and I have found that response (5) tend to be a lot more effective in so many areas of life.
How often have you misunderstood a situation because you of your assumptions?
Say your colleague gets off the phone, and tells you that his dad has just died. Do you:
4. “I’m so sorry to hear that – you must be heartbroken.”
5. “Wow. How are you feeling?”
If you went for a (4), you might get a:
“Nope. Am glad that bastard’s dead. He made my childhood hell.”
Not everyone would be sad at a death.
Or being laid off.
Just remember that everyone’s life experience is unique, and will react differently to life events.
Be empathic, and free yourself from judgements and assumptions.
You just might learn something new.