Do You Broadcast Hostility And Not Even Know It
Another way of asking the question is, “Are you often genuinely surprised and shocked that people think you have been disrespectful to them with your tone of voice or with the look on your face?”
If so, then you probably often get people who respond to the hostile edge in your voice, or the look of rejection or disgust on your face with some anger or energy of their own. Then, you look at them and think, “Why are they starting something up with me.” You are being honest when you deny that you made a rejecting face or that you had a harsh tone in your voice. Because you are either actually unaware of your extra harsh tone or face; or you are back-pedalling in trying to minimize, justify, deny or rationalize your angry tone.
Let’s start with a skill that will help you recover from the reactions of people around
I work with an domestic violence men’s group in Los Angeles. Sometimes I will raise my hand saying, “I am a man who might broadcast hostility, contempt or rejection. I may be honestly completely unaware that I am agitated so when people around me react to my face or voice I think to myself, “Now why are they starting up a fight with me.” But, when I look back I can see that I really started the energetic exchange.
“…so when people around me react to my face or voice I think to myself, “Now why are they starting up a fight with me.”
Below is a reminder tool I call ‘Round Up My Usual Suspects’ card. The actual card is the size of a business card and is printed front and back. You circle 3 or 4 the checkmarks you think apply to you. The ones that you are most likely guilty of. Your ‘Usual Suspects’ when it comes to making your partner feel intimidated or anxious. Then, you ask your partner to use a yellow highlighter to underline the number one behavior that gets him or her upset. You keep the card in your wallet or purse. One day you find yourself confused about why people are irritated with you, or picking fights with you, or just pushing your buttons. Or, maybe you’ve taken some of my Power & Compassion Communication course and you’ve just taken a Time Out. So, you pull out your trusty card and review your last conflict asking yourself, “Which one of my Usual Suspects’ might have been operating just now.
Then, you return to the person and simply say it out loud,
“I was _(fill in from the card below)__ just then. I know that makes you upset. I’m sorry, I’ll try in the future not to do that.”
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Round Up ‘My Usual Suspects’
If you are honest with yourself and you know you are an emotional person, who wears his, or her, feelings on your sleeve; then simply admit that you’re upset. Some people won’t admit it, or they deny, justify or blame their feelings on others.
By owning and taking responsibility for your behavior as soon as possible, you are creating a possibility for a ‘Conversation’ about the issues. You make that happen because you’re willing to sweep your side of the street first by checking if your tone of voice or facial and body language contributed to a conflict. When you do this you make it so much easier for others to ‘sweep their side of the street’ by admitting what they may have done to contribute to the conflict. Then, two people may have a conversation! Would you like to see that happening in your relationship?
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