Like most love cripples, I want to love appropriately but often don't know how. Here is a useful little tough love tool for confronting another person's negative behaviour, which I've found very useful.
“When you...[name the behavior - see note 1 below], I feel....[name your feelings - see 2], because I imagine that....[share your thinking - see 3] and what I need is....[share your reasonable needs - see 4].” [see 5]
Example: "When you shout at me, I feel afraid and angry because I imagine that I am going to be hit and what I need is to be physically safe in my own house".
1. I try to be as objective, polite and gentle as I can, never hostile or blaming.
2. I only use real “feeling” words such as anger, sadness or fear and never ideas or interpretations such as abused, ignored or abandoned.
3. Using the phrase “I imagined that…” allows for the possibility that I may have completely misinterpreted what was going on, which is quite likely in my case..
4. My needs statement needs to be reasonable and clear. If I'm not sure what to say here it may be better to say nothing!
5. I resist the temptation to say anything else. I just shut up and await the reply.
My children all know and use this tool. Sometimes I have to remind them that the best reply is "Thank you." and nothing more.
Try it for a while, you'll be amazed how much more honest conversation can get!