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Effective Communication Strategies to Work Through Hard Conversations with Amy Green Smith  | 12.06.2023

In this episode, Kristen sits down with Amy Green Smith, a certified life coach and courageous communication expert. They delve into overcoming the fear of difficult conversations and navigating self-worth and perfectionism in effective communication.

You'll Learn

  • The concept of conversational consent and its role in effective communication.
  • The significance of post-cool down conversations in building self-awareness.
  • Helpful strategies for overcoming the fear of challenging conversations with loved ones, friends, and colleagues.
  • Key lessons on prioritizing self-worth and authenticity in communication.

www.amygreensmith.com

Resources

For counseling services near Indianapolis, IN, visit www.pathwaystohealingcounseling.com.

Subscribe and Get a free 5-day journal at www.kristendboice.com/freeresources to begin closing the chapter on what doesn’t serve you and open the door to the real you.

 

This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about ideas on stress management and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not psychotherapy/counseling in any form.

Kristen

Welcome to the Close the Chapter podcast. I am Kristen Boice, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice pathways to healing counseling. Through conversations, education, strategies and shared stories, we will be closing the chapter on all the thoughts, feelings, people and circumstances that don't serve you anymore. And open the door to possibilities and the real you. You won't want to miss an episode so be sure to subscribe

Kristen

Welcome to this week's close the chapter podcast so happier with me for this important conversation. Do you get afraid to have conversations hard conversations with loved ones, friends, co workers, family members because you don't know what to say? Or you want to avoid them getting upset than this episode is for you. Or you just want to improve your communication skills and work through people pleasing, and maybe people pleasing. There's a time and a place for it. So we have all of this important information that we share. On this week's episode. Amy Greene Smith is a certified and credentialed life coach and hypnotherapist masterful speaker and courageous communication expert, Amy uses her roles as coach, writer, podcaster, and speaker to move individuals to a place of radical personal empowerment and self worth. With acute focus on helping people find their voice. She is highly sought after for her uncommon style of inference, wisdom and humor, and has been a featured expert and inspired coach magazine and on Fox five San Diego. So this episode is one where we break down even practical scripts on how to start conversations, what that looks like, how does that sound. And we talk through defensiveness defenses, it's really helpful conversation and practical, you'll probably want to grab the journal to go with it per usual, I really encourage everyone to get it at Kristen D boice.com. forward slash free resources. I'll also put that in the show notes. So I hope this episode is extremely helpful. Share it with loved ones and talk about your communication styles, and how that might impact how you connect and maybe your attachment styles and how that impacts you in communication. So without further ado, here is my conversation with Amy. Welcome to this week's close to Chapter podcast. I am thrilled to have Amy green Smith joining me today for a deep dive in kind of working through self worth. We're going to explore perfectionism, look at fear of having hard conversations and then really fail to communicate more clearly and directly how we feel with confidence. So we have a lot to unpack. And Amy, welcome to the podcast.

Amy

Hi, Kristen, I'm so excited to talk about this stuff, I feel like you're probably going to have to cut me off because I get a little excited.

Kristen

I love excitement because me too. So tell the audience a little bit about yourself and kind of what started you on the journey of talking about perfectionism and self worth and communication. Well,

Speaker 1

I grew up in an extremely religious dogmatic household. And there was a lot of motivation from sort of guilt and fear and powers that were sort of outside of us to leaning on your own internal compass, your own intuition wasn't necessarily something that was applauded. And he was a super eccentric child, I wanted to always know. Okay, if you're telling me that specific anecdote from that Bible, I want to know what the reasons were behind that not just because I said so and things like that. So I was a bit of a contrarian growing up. But I also was, by all intents and purposes, sort of like the good kid, I had two younger brothers who both had trouble with the law did some jail time. And then I In contrast, had started working when I was 14, put myself through college moved out, got married, nice and young. And that all kind of comes into play a little bit later. So in oh seven, my father passed away. And at the time, I was working in makeup artistry and so I felt very convicted that I wanted to do the makeup for his viewing. So we're talking dead dad makeup, everyone if you're catching that, so it was a big deal. And and I also knew that I wanted to speak and deliver a eulogy. And it was really difficult for me because I knew that the environment that I was going to be surrounded in was not going to be aligned with me spiritually. And it all kind of came to a head when I get back home to my mom's house and I'm kind of feeling like I'm winning at daughter today. Okay, I'm doing dead dad makeup. I'm speaking to a crowd of hundreds. Give it My daughter are all like, can

Kristen

I get points for this? Like, I'm so many

Speaker 1

points. And as we get back home and my mom finds it the most opportune time to say it feels as though your father and I have failed as parents, because the three of you, grouping me again with my two siblings are not subscribed to the religious beliefs that we were raised with. And in that moment, it was really a definitive decision for me of I can either continue to shape shift, twist and contort because Christian up until that time, every time my husband and I would go visit my mom, or my parents, I would give him like, You got to completely watch what you say, No, Howard Stern, no, South Park, no liberal agenda, no gay rights. No, that's like, yeah, stay in your lane, make sure they're okay, make sure they're happy. And so that day of his service was such a pivotal moment for me, because I don't think that speaking up for yourself having difficult conversations, establishing a boundary is always an ultimatum. In fact, most times, I don't think that it is. However, I realized in that moment, that if push came to shove, and I had to choose between making you happy, and making me happy, I'm going to choose me. And that's something that we don't talk about a lot is sometimes there is collateral damage to a boundary. Sometimes there is casualties to you having self worth. And that was such an interesting moment for me because I realized, okay, I either get to make my mom happy forever. And always, or I live in in alignment with what felt true for me spiritually. But I'll tell you what, it was a shit show. After that it was so combative, I was adversarial. It was like the dam had erupted. And I wanted to talk about everything. And it wasn't until I had to go clean up my mess, many times that I realized, oh, there's a way to speak up for yourself to have really incredibly difficult conversations, to ask adult children to move out of the house to ask for a divorce, or to tell your family that you don't subscribe to their faith traditions. And you can do all of that with the utmost grace and kindness. So I had to lean up my delivery. And so there are many times I have to go back to my mom and say, Hey, listen, I still feel very strongly about what we conversed about. But the way I delivered that was unacceptable. And you don't deserve that. And for that piece, I'm apologizing. Because so often we have sort of the confidence or speak up hangover, and then we want to just please be okay with me. I know, I didn't really mean it, I didn't really mean it. And we take back everything instead of just our delivery. So I did not come out of the womb having this skill set. It was something that was really fostered over having to learn how to implement it in my own world.

Kristen

How did you have the self awareness to do that like to go back and say, Okay, I'm owning this piece, and I apologize for this piece, let put you on that trajectory to recognize that.

Speaker 1

Well, I fortunately, had started going to coaching school in probably in about, Oh, 405. So I had started to dip my toe into the personal development space and learning about negative self talk and things like that. So I had already taken a little bite out of that. So I was a student of self help. But it took so much trial and error because I was not immersed in it as a profession, and wasn't working directly with a therapist or anybody at the time. So it was years and years and years of a dysfunctional way of communicating. And with such a bitch about the situation is dysfunctional ways of communicating often feel incredibly intuitive, right? Because they are a piece of our defense mechanism. If we feel like we're being threatened, we naturally want to fight freeze fawn flees, so we will either become combative and want to fight we'll run away we'll do all of these things. So to tell somebody you need to be calm and you need to deliver your words with intention is all fantastic. But it is counterintuitive. And we have to know that as we go in that what you feel righteous about very, very rarely, if ever will yield the results you're trying to come by in that conversation. And

Kristen

it's so hard I remember with my mom it was like I could feel the intensity in my body. She would say something and I could feel it in my body and then I would just feel so mad like I wouldn't feel heard I wouldn't feel understood I'd feel you're not hearing me and so I would just kind of amp it up a little more and and put up a little Mike my tone would just start increasing. So Mike, you're not hearing me and obviously didn't work because she would just get defensive and get mad. It was a lot to try to manage my body's response to try to put Let me try to advocate for myself at the same time. And this is what I work with clients on. It's a whole reckoning of your body response, and you're trying to get your voice heard. So how do you help people work through that body response, that intensity, perhaps that's in someone's nervous system, and manage their tone? And manage that urge to kind of amp it up and put up?

Speaker 1

Gosh, that's such a great question, it really comes down to the nature of that specific dynamic, because we know that if we're dealing with parental relationships, or even ones with siblings, it's likely we're going to have a bit of emotional regression. And the concept behind emotional regression is that whenever we're presented with a situation, like if I go to visit my mom, I oftentimes find myself regressing back to her around 18 years old, when that struggle with her authority was the most potent. So I have to watch that because it's easy for me to be the best version of me when I'm talking with a colleague like yourself, or leading a workshop, like there's no adversary. So it's easy to be who I want to be in those situations. But it really comes down to how have I given that other person, the opportunity to be what I need. And most of the time, and I'm sure you've heard this, too, when I'll ask somebody will have you spoken up about that? Or have you had a conversation about that? Sure. Yes, absolutely. Oh, he knows, or she knows exactly how I feel. Okay, how did you deliver that, because if you set it coming out like a bat out of hell than that other person, think about how you respond to aggression, you will likely either placate and tell that person what they want to hear, so you can get out of there, which then what happens, you forget what you even agreed to, which then will lead you to not being able to follow through, you yell and scream back, you completely shut down, you run away, we have all sorts of experiences there. So if you genuinely want to be heard, because that's what we all want, we just want our needs met, we want to be seen, we want to be heard, you have to deliver that information in a way that they can receive it. But what's so difficult about that is most of the time, we don't believe they deserve that kindness, because we are so upset. And we feel so wronged and victimized, that we feel validated in yelling and screaming, or we feel righteous in being passive aggressive, when we are not seeing is that even though that might feel good to you in your righteousness, it very rarely will ever make for a successful conversation. So a piece of it is emotional intelligence, it's recognizing that you're not in a current emotional space, to be able to have a thoughtful conversation. So I always suggest if, for example, you just found out that your partner didn't mail a bill that they said they were going to handle, or didn't pick up the kids from school. And this has been an ongoing issue. In that moment. It is not the time that have the conversation. But what you can say, is an acknowledgement of where you're at emotionally, listen, I am so incredibly upset at this moment, I need some distance from you, I don't think a conversation will go smoothly. So it doesn't have to be this beautiful, eloquent loving thing, it can just be an ownership of where you're at. And this happened with my partner a couple of months ago, where we've both learned that if we get into that elevated level of emotional frequency, that we have to put a pause on it, because we're not capable of delivering the information in a poised way. Now, that takes a while to get to that point where you just shut it down. But you can always do that. And I encourage my clients to not take the bait. And what I mean by that is oftentimes the other person if they tend to be the one who wants to talk about it right now, they might try to get you into it and say, oh, what you're just going to shut down, oh, you're just going to walk away. Oh, you don't think you made a mistake by not handling that to begin with. And then you want to jump and argue about the content, instead of the container of the conversation, the container of the conversation is not conducive to anyone being heard. So instead of arguing about the bill, or the pickup or the whatever, talk about the container is not going to be fruitful for us to be discussing right now. So no matter what the insult, no matter what is coming at you, you have to reinforce I think we need some time to cool down. I know I do. I'm gonna put a timeout right here, let's reconvene in 30 minutes or two hours or whatever. But that alone, recognizing that I'm not in an emotional place, to have a conversation and be productive is your part. That's really what we have to start learning and owning, because then we're setting ourselves up to have a much more successful conversation. So

Kristen

let's now take that a step further. Let's say we're now cooled off and we want to talk about or not paying the bill or picking up the kid or whatever the pattern? Is that triggered something in you? How do you then go back and talk about it? Like, how would you approach that? Where are the apps and still pretty defensive, but they're more apt to have the conversation. But we all have our defense mechanisms. That's part of why people don't have conversations, because they feel like that a person gets defensive, or they shift blame, or they start shaming the person and guilting the person or passive aggressive or whatever the mechanisms are. So how would they go back? Now say, We're all calm? We're gonna go back? Where would you start to revisit the conversation? Sure.

Speaker 1

So one thing that I will say two, as a precursor to that is, this is the most advantageous when you commit to circling back. So this doesn't get to be a free pass to sweep it under the rug and never look at it. Again, it's imperative that you complete that cycle. Okay. So that's for all of my avoidant attachment styles out there.

Kristen

Like, I don't want to ever have a conversation let's we're good, we're good. That's an avoidant person, or it's very different over now,

Speaker 1

the defense is to flee. And here's the deal of very, very few amount of people actually like confrontation. So the idea of why just don't like confrontation, get in line, because nobody really does, right. But there is such a cost to not speaking up for yourself. So I'm gonna go on just a slight tangent here for a second, because I'm not talking about speaking up for yourself as some kind of arbitrary personal development exercise, it is because it's directly correlated to your self worth. So every time you shut yourself down, and you stay silent, you send a subconscious message to your mind that your wants, needs, and opinions just aren't as important as someone else. But we don't say that we say I don't want to fight that battle, or oh, that just gets too messy. Or I don't want to deal with that right now. We use some sort of noble way to escape it, instead of realizing that what we're doing, if we do that cyclic ly chronically over and over and over again, we're reinforcing the notion that other people just matter more than me, they're worth more than me. And what is that that is your self worth. And that has a ripple effect. So that will inform if you go start that new business, or if you try to get that promotion, or if you enter the dating scene. Again, if you're thinking everybody else matters more than me, you are conditioning, that belief that is that anchoring in a lack of self worth, so when I'm teaching you these scary steps to take it is so that you can cultivate a really impactful and fulfilling sense of self worth. So it's just a side note, I wanted to say it because some people think like, I'm not copping out, I'm not extroverted, I'm not confrontational, it's like, get in line, having

Kristen

healthy relationships. Without this skill set, we cannot have healthy relationships without the skill set. I don't think if you're suppressing, repressing, avoiding moving away, chances are this is going to be a big mountain of almost splitting off parts of yourself. And that will not lead to a healthy family system or relationship. So these are like essential tools that you're teaching that everybody needs to know how to do. And we have to work through that discomfort and tolerate increase our window of tolerance to say, Okay, if the person gets upset, I can handle it. That's it. Yeah, I can handle it. It's when we feel like I can't handle like when our parent will get upset. While we felt like we couldn't handle it. Well, that makes sense. You're a kid. Yeah, you have to live in this house are trapped. So of course, you're just survival, you're not going to bring it up because you have a consequence for that. Now, as an adult, we have to learn how to tolerate and handle discomfort and communicate effectively. So okay, having said that,

Speaker 1

yes. So back to your original question of okay, now we've kind of calmed down. Now what? Well, one of the things that I think is incredibly important in this is whether you are circling back or broaching a conversation to begin with, and that is conversational consent. So you might be processed and ready to talk. But your partner might be in a trauma response. Maybe your behavior is really emblematic of what they had to deal with one of their primary caregivers and their nervous system is still on high alert. So just be this is what I call like, when self help goes bad. When you feel ready for a conversation when you feel ready for a boundary and You're disregarding the place the other person's in. Right? That's,

Kristen

that's so true, because we're like, we're ready to circle back, right?

Speaker 1

And you get all empowered and you're excited and jotted down your notes and you're ready to go. And the first item of business is to check in and ask that other person. Hey, would you be up for reconvening? Are you ready to kind of unpack what happened earlier and genuinely be okay if they're not? That's the other thing too. It cannot be a trick question. It has to genuinely be are you able to have this conversation with me? We missed that part a lot. Especially if you are the partner who tends to be more assertive, more outgoing, more verbal, if that other person is not ready, it's important to understand that, okay, so when you are separated, let's say you did take some time to cool down, I suggest, if you can to give yourself a couple of hours, usually we can't come down quick enough within 30 minutes, because during that first 30 minutes, we're building our case, we're litigating about why they are doing all the things wrong, and why you would be just fine. So you dig into your righteousness and your victimhood, usually in that first handful. And so that's why is it give yourself a longer time to kind of decompress, then at some point, you have to start looking at, is there anything I could have done differently. And sometimes the only thing you could have done differently was your delivery, sometimes your actions, your stances, your beliefs, or whatever, not the problem. It's how you can lead them. So if you can find an element of something you need to own, that's really, really going to come into play. So start thinking about what could I have done better? What maybe, could I have explained a little more efficiently? Where did I allow my emotions to run wild? And what are the things that I need to give voice to? So then when you go back, and you get that conversation, consent, and you say, Hey, I don't feel fully settled about our conversation earlier? Would you be up for having sort of a do over and seeing if we can make some headway here? Because I know I didn't feel heard. I'm sure you didn't feel heard? Because by the way, everybody believes they're right. We all believe we're right. It's not Oh, it has to always be her way. It's literally that way for everyone. We're always fighting for our own agenda. It's not unique to anyone. And then maybe they give a counteroffer, maybe they say, let me just finish this thing I'm doing for work. Why don't we talk at five, okay, great. Let's converse, then your vulnerability or use ownership of what you came up with that you could do better. And start with what often John Gottman always calls it your soft startup, something that instead of just hey, ready to talk, alright, and you're stoic, and maybe your body language as you got arms crossed through the cadence and the inflection of your voice is not inviting, because we have mirror neurons in the brain, because we will naturally mimic one another. We have emotional contagion, the kids would call it catching feels. But quite realistically, you show up ready to do battle, it's very likely that the other person is going to mimic and mirror that defense. So the more vulnerable you're able to go into the conversation, the better. Now, that does not mean heart splayed wide open, that means softer than you normally would be. And it also means that person is safe to be vulnerable with which I'll talk about in a second. So you might say something like, Hey, listen, I really don't feel great about how that went. And I really owe you an apology for how I spoke to you. And you don't deserve that. And I wanted to just to start by saying that. Or you could say, I recognize this is so uncomfortable. And I just really appreciate you being willing to have these tough conversations with me something soft, that you're going into instead of just, hello, Your Honor, I'm ready to litigate, here's all and if you could look at article number, no, we're going in, in service of the entire relationship, not just this specific situation. Now, if you are engaging with somebody you have history with who has never taken ownership of any time ever, and they've always said Well, I wouldn't have to do that if you didn't do this. And there's always a shift of blame. That person may not always but can oftentimes weaponize vulnerability. And they may say things like, Well, I'm so sorry, you feel that way. Or you shouldn't experience that, or I don't know what I'm supposed to do about the stories you make up. So if you're dealing with that, we're in a completely different type of dynamic. And I would not layer on these specific tools in that sort of a relationship. And if it's escalated beyond that, if we're dealing with emotional abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, if there's constant name calling, these are not the tactics for that. In fact, what I usually suggest is to lean into people pleasing, and that's probably sounds like a shocker. But if you're in a volatile situation where you are not safe, your best tactic is to do and say whatever you need to do to keep safe. So I think that's important to bring up. Because I do have a lot of individual women, I work only with women who thinks that it's their communication issue. And this really is Elon heteronormative relationships. They think if only I can communicate better I can get him to stop calling me names or making it all my fault. You're nodding like yes, this Oh, no. And then they all eat

Kristen

and then they'll be able to see and then they'll will maybe they'll see and then they'll change and then there, they hold on to the hope that this person is going to just turn it around. That's

Speaker 1

right. And that's why there's So much nuance here. We can't say, here's what you always do, because there are certain individuals where it is not safe to be vulnerable. And you might have a parent like that, or a primary caregiver where you learned very quickly that if you were emotional with them, you paid a severe price, or you would be ridiculed later. So it's important to recognize what each of your issues are. And is this an intimate partnership, difficult conversation? Or is this a work related, difficult conversation, because we don't talk about the nuance of people pleasing actually being in our benefit. So one of the examples that I've used in the past is I identify as queer. If I were to be amongst a very volatile group of folks who were clearly anti LGBTQIA. That's probably not the time if I'm by myself, and this is a very violent group for me to speak up and be like, No, listen, here's what we need you for trans lives. But that's probably a death sentence, I can't do anything for the cause, if I'm not physically safe. So in that situation, I might allow stuff to be said that I'm offended by I might fly under the radar to stay safe. Now, that's very different than a situation where I'm afraid to speak up with a best friend, because I'm afraid of how they might view me or that speaking up now means I'm not worthy, or I'm not valuable, or there's something wrong with me. Now, we're having a very, very different scenario. So I think it's important to recognize that there are a lot of terms that we throw around like perfectionism, like people pleasing, that get really demonized, but I don't know about you, but if I'm going in for brain surgery, you better sure as fuck, that that neurosurgeon is a perfectionist. Like there's certain things, there's not room for error, I think we need to talk more about those nuances, because we have so many different lived experiences. And so sometimes that behavior of pleasing other people can be really beneficial for us. But again, it's a different answer every time one step that could be helpful for you if you're not sure. And my silencing myself, am I not speaking up for a protective reason? Or is it because I'm afraid of what that might mean about me and my own value? If that person doesn't like what I have to say, very

Kristen

different, or they don't like Asians, they feel like I'm too much, or they think whatever, they don't like me, or they judge me or they don't they kind of reject me. That's right. Right. Is that what you're talking about? Yeah,

Speaker 1

I think we can people please out of self preservation, and then we can also people, please, to outsource our self worth. So we need to delineate which one is it. So I'll give you an example. I was on a podcast, and was being interviewed by an incredible black woman. And she was like, You know what, I think I had that situation when I was in the hospital having my baby. She said, I found myself knowing that there is a high rate of maternal fatalities disproportionately in black and brown women when they give birth. So she said, I found myself trying to really make good with the staff and to not be overly asking for things and to really try to be kind and lay it on thick. And I said, that's a perfect example of you have it on good authority, that there is a risk to you being a black woman giving birth. So you made very deliberate decisions to take care of yourself, you didn't need those women to like you so that you felt confident or that you had an enoughness or you're valuable it is I need to stay safe in this situation. And we do that sometimes in our work relationships, where we need somebody to see us a specific way so that we don't get fired or so that we can keep that job. That's very different than I need this person to like me so that I am enough so that I am valuable and lovable. Yes, that I'm enough that we're outsourcing that self worth. So that's one place you can just check in. Am I actually in danger here? Or is this a situation where I'm leaning on that person's approval for my self worth? That will give you a little bit of a barometer of does this warrant a difficult conversation? Because you and I were talking before we hit record that not everything warrants a difficult conversation. And there are times when we need to figure out is this about my self worth? Is this something I'm doing to really truly just take care of myself and survive? By will say though, however, by and large, a majority of folks are people pleasing in situations where they actually are quite safe. We're still just breaking some of that people pleasing that probably kept us safe as kids or maybe in your collegiate experience in academia, who knows or maybe in your first marriage. So we adopt all of these different behavioral tactics to try to stay safe because who would have taught This, where would we have known? I think God, Gen Z is starting to change some stuff with emotional intelligence and talking about things. But Gen X was sort of the first one to even open our eyes to that stuff there. That's a lot of generational trauma to untangle. So please, when we talk about this stuff, know that this is a journey like we don't do, it's not laid out for us in school. Sure, as hell isn't shown in the media, many of us did not get a good example from our parents. So what is that that's trial and error? Or if you go and actually source education for yourself, so please know that you leaning on people pleasing, or any other tactic to gain favor is wildly human. And why would you think any differently until you do until you realize that those tactics aren't helping anymore? Right? Yeah.

Kristen

Or the other thing that came up for me as I'm thinking of like, when we go back to the communication piece, we had to scan somebody to see if they were safe enough. So we do that we all do that. We're like, are they in a ok mood to talk? Are they opening their eyebrows out there giving an snarled look, oh, they're in a bad mood, oh, there, whatever we we have learned to scan somebody's mood. And then we'll determine whether it's safe enough to have a conversation where the person may or may not just have had like, they might just be looking that way, because they're not, they're just tired, or they're, we're scanning for safety totally. And then we will suppress and a lot of times suppress because we're like, that doesn't feel safe. We've just made an we discerned to ski that that person isn't safe. And so it's Yeah, hard sometimes for couples to work through that, because that's a really ingrained survival strategy to scan. I've literally had clients say, I will scan their facial expressions, their body language, their every move, just to make sure is it okay to bring it up? And if there's even a sniff of something like I won't, and they've gone years without saying anything, because it wasn't safe in childhood. So how did someone work through this, like the hyper vigilance, so to speak like this scanning, so they can lean into having a conversation? Yeah, I

Speaker 1

love that you brought that up, because that is what I like to call new trauma, kicking up old trauma. So if there is anything that your partner your boss, your bestie does that's emblematic of a primary caregiver, your brain naturally goes, this looks a lot like what I experienced back there better send in all the same defenses. So usually, if you are a scanner like that, it's likely you had to walk on a ton of eggshells when you're young, right? Because that's part of you taking care of yourself. And I knew you talked about that a little bit with Laura enough. I know Laura enough. And I always get her confused with Dr. Kristen, I, in your discussion with Dr. Neff about how oh, gosh, I totally just lost me self

Kristen

compassion, like how we are shame ourselves. And to try to, we think we're going to protect ourselves with that, but we really don't.

Speaker 1

That's right. So when we are having those go to responses like to be combative or to shut down, give yourself some compassion that that's your body actually trying to adapt to something that feels like a threat. And then what I would also suggest, if it's possible within the framework of that relationship, to set up some sort of guardrails for the trauma each of you are working through, for example, if your partner has a phrase, or your coworker, your boss has a phrase that they say that remind or just, it immediately kicks up all of that defense, maybe you have an understanding, like, hey, it would really mean a lot to me, if you would phrase that slightly different, say something like this, this or this, you would be amazed at how many people just love being told exactly what to say, because otherwise, we're just interpreting and trying to meet each other's needs. And we're usually failing miserably. So I'll give you an example. I remember years ago, was probably a good 20 years ago, I was really in the throes of anxiety and depression. And I was very, very heavy on the anxiety, just a little side dose of depression. And my husband would try to encourage me by saying, after I had a really tough day, he would say, you know, you can get through it. You know, you can speak kindly to yourself, you know, you can shift that. And I had to think through like, why does that irritate me so much when he says that, and I realized after I've had a really long day of not fighting that fight very well. I don't want to be reminded that I could have done it better. But he's thinking, Oh, I'm being so inspiring, encouraging them safe place to land. So I had to say, here's what I'd much rather you say, will you please say to me, babe, I am so sorry. You had such a tough day. You'll get it tomorrow. I didn't give him those literal words. And he was like, done and done. Thank you for giving me the exact verbiage. I had a situation with a best friend where I would always tell her you are so strong. You've gotten through so much. And she had to tell me it's not helpful for me to be told that I'm strong, because what I need to do is fall apart, I need you to remind me that it's okay that I fall apart. And I don't want to be reminded of all the hardship I've gone through, I just want to be told it's okay to fall apart. So it can be really helpful to have those sorts of conversations around. What are the things that are triggering for you, and this is outside of a conflict issue. This is when things are copacetic. This is when there's an opening and generosity that's flowing between you, that's when you establish these guardrails, and you create different parameters. My husband and I call them Smith systems for ourselves, if anything isn't working well, whether it's through communication, or even domestic stuff, where like, we need a Smith system for that. So one of the pieces of conversational content with our Smith system was to be open about the space that we're in. So for example, if he gets home after a long, really long day, and I have stuff I want to talk about, he has claimed, hey, listen, I am so fried, I want to give this the attention it deserves, I can't be here for you. But I will be like, can we just table it, and for me to not be pissed at where he's at? And to just respect that and go sweet, of course, absolutely. Thank you for telling me what you need. Because the opposite that we did for many years was me just rambling on and on and on him being irritated, just shut up. And then not remembering anything that I said, and then me getting super pissed that he never remembered. So you have to make sure that that conversation container is set up in a way to progress the conversation. So a great sort of hack, if you want one for if I know that there's an issue going on with somebody, I'm working with a sibling, a partner, you can use this three step framework, here's the issue. Number one, here's the issue or here's what happened. Because unlike the anecdote we're sharing here, there might be situations where that other person has no idea you're upset, this goes back to the whole thing of they need to at least be given the opportunity to be what you need. If it would be a complete surprise to them that you're upset, or how incredibly impactful this issue was the depth of the importance to you, that's on you. That's on you to convey in a way that's palatable for that other person to receive. So number one, here's the issue. Here's what happened. Number two, here's my interpretation. Here's how it landed. Here's what I made up. Here's what that behavior says to me. You're claiming your own interpretation, not just you for sure did gesture hurt me, right? No, we're saying here's how it landed for me. And then finally, here's my request. Here's what I would love to try. Here's what I would like to do differently. So that can be a really helpful way to go into a conversation. And another great little communication hack, if you can, does take some practice and some finessing is to eliminate the word u. And I'm super curious what you think about this as a therapist, where there's a lot of traditional language around, I feel that that's when you do these things. So you're shaking your head going no, yes, though. I feel like the word you immediately puts people on the defensiveness,

Kristen

you always and never am. But were words I'm like, just eliminate.

Speaker 1

So if you can say something like, like, let's say you feel like your partner is taking things out on you because they had a really bad day. Instead of saying you had a really bad day and you're taking it out on me, you might say something like, it seems as though it may have been a bit of a difficult day to day. And I'm wondering if that's manifesting in communication, that is so much more disarming, you're still calling it out. But you're not saying you do this. And you always and you never, and we're just saying, Hey, here's what the situation seems like or you're talking to a boss who micromanage is to say something like, it seems as though there's a lot of passion and ownership on your behalf of the company, on your behalf is different. And then to say, I'm wondering if there might be another opportunity for me to prove my competency with a little less oversight, something like that, right. But a lot of this stuff comes from contemplating it, thinking about it, writing out a literal script of what you want to say. And then rehearsing it, because we have to remember all those defense tactics are wired into the subconscious and the subconscious will not change. Unless we are able to make it habit habits are lodged in the subconscious faculty of the mind. So we want this new verbiage, this new way of communicating to become part of our habits part of our beliefs part of that subconscious, but that's not going to happen. If you get stuck deer in a headlight, you're gonna immediately revert back to all those old behaviors. So you have to practice it. And one of the reasons why I think it comes so easily for me now is because I'm talking about it nonstop. I'm either talking about it with my clients, I'm on a podcast, I'm referring to this information all the time. So now it is constantly in my back pocket, but having specific phrases that you can lean on like if you do tend to get really aggressive fights, let's say with your sister. And it escalates really quickly, or you come from a family where everybody screams and yells to get their way, you might have to have a go to stock phrase that is something like, I feel like this has gotten out of hand, let's take a timeout, or this has gone a bit off the rails, let's take a couple hours and reconvene, you need to have these stock phrases. Somebody says something offensive. You know what, I don't share that opinion. But I respect that that's yours, or I respect that. That's your opinion. And I'm not interested in getting into that right now. I don't share that same belief system. So mouthing, little crutch phrases that you can just pull out can be extremely helpful in communicating properly. I

Kristen

love all this, Amy, I could keep going on and on and on. And I so appreciate you sharing so clearly and directly and passionately. It's so helpful. And I've enjoyed our conversation went so fast. So we know it did where can people find you if they want more information? Or where can they find you on the web?

Speaker 1

Sure. So my little corner of the internet is Amy Greene smith.com. And I love to say that all three of those names are spelled the basic bitch way. Nothing exciting. Just Amy Greene smith.com. And I hang out the most like any self respecting John Axure on Instagram. So you can come see me over there under the handle. Hey, Amy Greene Smith, I use that same handle all across social, but Instagram the most active. And if you cruise over to my website, Amy Greene smith.com. I've got a bunch of freebies, you'll see a little tab called free sources, got some free hypnosis, downloads and workbooks that you can grab. I also have a back catalogue of almost 500 episodes on my own pod. So lots of ways for you to kind of dip in and hang out with my work.

Kristen

I love that we didn't even get to talk about hypnosis because I want to dive into that at some point too. So maybe we'll come back Yeah, by hypnosis, because I would love to. Yes, thank you so much, Amy for being on the podcast today. And I think our audience really is going to take some practical communication strategies away and do a lot of self reflection and leaning into kind of the discomfort of bringing up our conversation. So thanks so much. Thank you so much for listening to the close the chapter podcast. My hope is that you took home some actionable steps, along with motivation, inspiration and hope for making sustainable change in your life. If you enjoyed this episode, click the subscribe button to be sure to get the updated episodes every week and share with a friend or a family member. For more information about how to get connected visit kristendboice.com. Thanks and have a great day.