One question I like to ask participants in our workshops is, “Why do people yell during an argument or discussion?” It’s something that most people who are no stranger to direct or aggressive conflict styles sort of take for granted as a fact of life. My answer to this question is that “people yell because they feel like they aren’t being heard.” One way around this problem is to let people know that you hear them from the get go and you understand what they are saying. My favorite way to do this is by using a counseling technique called “reflective listening.” By using this technique you are capturing the feeling that you suspect the speaker is experiencing and a summary of the content in their message. For example if your loved one said something like “I am so sick of you leaving your stuff all over house. When are you going to clean up after yourself. I am not your maid!” You respond using reflective listening and it would be something like this, “It sounds like your frustrated because I am leaving you to clean everything up.” It’s that basic. The key to this technique is being genuine. You can not use this sarcastically or it will massively back fire.
Openers to reflective listening:
“It sounds like…” “I hear you saying” “I understand your….” “I appreciate that you are…”
feelings that might come next:
Frustrated, hurt, upset, sad, angry, annoyed, alienated, abandoned, etc.
and then add on the content of their point. Follow the rule of KISS. Keep it short and simple.