How to say what you mean: Be Specific

When my kids have a fight and when the hitting and name-calling are over, I like to get each of them on (separate) couches to talk. Like an intervention. I will then ask each of them to relay the details of what happened, and without fail, they have different accounts of what started the fight and who did what. Always. When I ask something like, ‘Why did you hit your brother,’ I usually get an answer like, ‘Because he’s a jerk.’

What is anyone supposed to do with that information?   

Saying what you mean is an art and a skill. It takes maturity. It takes language and vocabulary. And it takes removing the emotion so that the other party can hear you clearly. Why do you think legal contracts are dry and boring? The documents to sell my house has phrases like ‘promulgated exclusions,’ and ‘effective date.’ You wouldn’t know there was any emotion from reading it, yet there is. Paradoxically, when confronting someone who has offended you, it’s best to keep it dry and specific. Emotion just gets in the way.   

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