An Email From A Client

Sep 27, 2013

I hope this email will convey the emotion and appreciation I have for the work you do.

My husband told me he is getting a nice bonus at work, and we discussed how much he would be getting after taxes.  It’s enough for me to dream a little bit about doing some much needed landscaping work to the front of the house.  My husband was not even the least bit interested in yard work and he just kept repeating that he works too hard for the money and landscaping isn’t “fun”.

My default move when we argue is to withdraw, walk away, disengage, shut down, close off, you get the picture.  I could feel myself (self awareness is a good thing, right?) going down the road to Barstow.

But this time, I stopped and I said to my husband, look I can feel myself wanting to shut down and I don’t want to do that.  I’m sure I know some way to have a conversation with you without getting angry but I can’t think of anything right now.  You  just took Conflict to Resolution so you have some tricks to pull out.  Do something.

So he started asking me what my goal was in redoing the landscaping, what would that do for me?  And then?  And then?

Then I asked him the same questions.  At first, he really couldn’t come up with a goal for the money, but eventually he told me about his concerns with Obamacare, and our son wanting to go back to school, and he really just wanted to put this money in the bank for security.

I could totally get on board with that.  I told him it was so much better when he talked TO me then AT me.  He didn’t understand the difference.  I told him when he talks at me I feel insulted, patronized, demeaned, and I get angry.  When he talks to me I get a better understanding of his feelings and thoughts, and more information that I can work with.  So now, I’ll be more alert and aware of the way he is talking so I can redirect it if I need to before I get angry and shut down.

Here’s the part that I love – when my husband started to use his Conflict tools, his demeanor changed.  He became someone I could talk to AND listen to.  And I could feel myself being calmer because I felt I was being listened to.  The whole dynamic and trajectory of the discussion was so much better for both of us.

We had a great conversation, we both got what we needed (my husband agreed to let me get some bids to do a small about of work in the yard with the majority of the money going into the bank), and we both walked away feeling good.

So yeah, this PL&L stuff works.  🙂