What do I mean by triggered values and unmet needs?
If one person says to you; ‘ I am fed up. You just never listen’, it may be obvious what need is not being met and what, or which, values are being triggered.
This person is not feeling listened to or understood. The value they place on the importance of being listened to, or respected or appreciated, for example, are being triggered, causing their outburst.
Here you might simply reply ; ‘ Sorry, it is just that I am so enthusiastic about X and sometimes struggle to slow down and listen. I hear you. I will try not to interrupt and make sure that you feel listened to. Is there anything else frustrating you? ’ or, something like that, depending on the context.
In doing so, you acknowledge what you are hearing and sensing in them, giving them an opportunity to tell you whether there is anything else bothering them.
So, be sensitively curious, being careful not to be intrusive or sound defensive.
It is fact, that many of people, find it hard to listen intently to another person’s story, to ‘step into their movie’ and explore what they are experiencing, in order to understand their feelings and perspectives, without interrupting or bringing the story back to something they want to talk about.
But, what if the person, you are talking to, rather than reacting with anger, simply decides to stop talking, folds their arms and goes silent, looking unhappy.
What might you say then?
Well, the challenge remains the same, to uncover what it is that has offended, challenged or threatened them, to cause them to opt out of the conversation, to disengage and ‘disconnect’.
So, you might say; ‘ I sense that you are unhappy and perhaps frustrated with me. Is there something I have said or done or something I have missed (that you are needing from me that you are not getting). Would you be willing to help me understand whether there is anything I can do or say differently?
Begin with the acknowledgement.
Try to nail what the other person is feeling, whether frustration, anger or some other emotion by picking up and reflecting back the emotions you are seeing, hearing and sensing.
In doing so, you will hopefully demonstrate some compassion and ‘connection’ with how they are feeling, showing that you actually care what they think and feel, creating an empathic connection, opening up ‘a space’ for some honest open dialogue.
Offer them an opportunity to tell you how you might have offended them but be ready not to react to what might come back to you as judgement and blame.
Simply listen very carefully and intently to what it is they are saying and feeling, with understanding and empathy. Get to the bottom of their block or barrier.
Finally, in this little exchange, ask them whether they might be willing to share their frustration with you. This way, if they, for some reason, prefer not to share at this stage, they can simply decline your offer.
At least, you will have done you best to re-open the conversation and uncovered the value triggers and unmet needs. They might just need a little time and space before coming back, giving you another opportunity to try this approach again.
In this way, you take responsibility for your part in improving the quality of communication with the other person, giving them every positive opportunity to feel heard, understood and re-engage with you.