Lesson 2 of 7 - learn to communicate effectively

Keys to Responding
 Effectively to Any
 Problem Behavior

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Expert's Council

The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/cx/apps/basics.htm

Updated  01-09-2015

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      "Problem behavior" is any action (or inaction) by someone which causes you "significant discomfort or injury." Some responses to such behavior are more effective than others. "Effective" means you get your current needs met in a way that leaves both people feeling respected and heard.

      This YouTube video provides perspective on what you'll read in this article and series:

      This article assumes you're familiar with...

  • the intro to this nonprofit, Web site and the premises underlying it 

  • self-improvement Lessons 1 nd 2

  • how to give effective feedback to another person

      All effective responses to problem behaviors have common elements like those below. The more you use them, the more automatic they'll become. "Partner" below means any adult or child.

Prepare to Respond Effectively

  • KEY: check to see if (a) your true Self is guiding your other subselves, and (b) you have a genuine mutual-respect attitude toward your partner. If not, seek to free your Self first.

  • KEY: estimate whether your partner a Grown Wounded Child in denial - i.e. estimate whether s/he is ruled now or chronically by a false self. If so, review these options before responding to them.

  • KEY: study how to improve communication outcomes with adults and kids. Then

  • Evolve and live from a Bill of Personal Rights. It is the basis of effective assertion..

  • Study and apply these options for improving your self-confidence

  • In a problem situation, make time to identify what you feel and need from this person.

  • Identify what outcome you want from responding - e.g. your partner agreeing to change their problem behavior. Then ask if s/he is open to some feedback about his/her behavior. Be prepared for "no," "not now," or "why?" 

  • Option - affirm your partner's apparent feelings and needs without judgment. (e.g. "You're really upset now...")

  • Decide (a) if you're making an observation, a request, or a demand; and (b) whether you want to include a specific consequence (e.g. "If you choose not to stop swearing so much, I'm going to _____.");

  • Briefly offer feedback and/or assert your needs, with friendly eye contact and minimum explanation. Expect some kind of resistance (excuse, apology, denial, complaint, defensiveness, blame, etc);

  • Use respectful empathic listening to acknowledge any resistances ("So you feel / need / want...") without comment; and calmly...

  • Repeat your feedback or assertion and listening until you (a) get what you need, (b) get a firm refusal, (c) your needs change, or you (d) change to win-win problem-solving.

  • If appropriate, thank your partner and/or ask how s/he felt about your feedback or assertion. If your response to the problem behavior didn't get the result you needed, analyze why, and what you might have done differently.

      Ineffective communications usually result from a false self controlling one or both of you and/or unawareness of communication basics and skills. You can reduce each of these (in you) by patiently studying online lessons 1 and 2.

      Do these response-preparation steps make sense to you? What might hinder you from using them with "problem partners?" These options work as well with most kids as with adults. They also work with your busy personality subselves!

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