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BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Megan
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
D.R.
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
Niko
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
Indepthwoman
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon

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Three Questions to Smooth Out Conflict and Increase Understanding

women talking listening

One of the most useful things I’ve learned over the last few years is that it is better to aim for understanding versus winning when it comes to disagreements with the ones we love. For many years — including those competing with my sister for attention and respect and those competing with my ex-husband for most competent and correct— I thought it was better to come out on top of each argument. I had to be smarter, quicker, meaner or more right. Those years were awful.

I learned the hard way that empathy and listening lead to success more than superiority.

Recently, I’ve encountered a few stories and experiences that pointed out three questions that create empathy and therefore greater understanding of another person’s perspective. Instead of inflaming conflict, these questions lead to relief.

Here are the stories that go along with the questions:

Glint in the eye

Many of us have found ourselves mad at, disappointed or sad about the relationships we had with one or both of our parents. Author of The Whole Brain Child and clinical professor of psychiatry, Dan Siegel, says that a positive narrative about our lives helps us transcend insecurity. If we can take the story we tell ourselves about our childhood and parental relationships and turn it into something that makes sense, we have more emotional resilience.

Dr. Warren Farrell, author of The Boy Crisis, says there is a question we can ask ourselves about our father that generates understanding and empathy for him. The question is, “When do you recall your father having a glint in his eye — an excited sparkle without worry, preoccupation, or thought of criticism, of either you or himself?” I believe this question works for mothers too.

It is nice to think of our parents as happy and joyful. They had enthusiasm and warm feelings about something.

Then think about when your parents did not have a glint in their eye. If your parents were like mine, that was probably a lot of the time. They were busy with work and worries and raising a family. They gave up that glint or lost it to problems or obligations.

Our parent’s lack of attention, depression, alcoholism, absence, anger, etc. make a little more sense (not that it’s an excuse for abuse or neglect) when we see how our parent’s glint was snuffed out. It does not provide a complete excuse for the troubles we had with our parent(s) but it is a good start. That question could apply to our partners too.

Lessons from camp

Dr. Farrell offers another insight based on a boy at camp. His name was ‘Nathan’. No one liked him in his cabin. The camp counselor (Dr. Farrell) asked the other boys in the cabin if they thought Nathan was happy. The boys had not thought about it, but all agreed he probably was not happy. Over the next week, the counselor and other boys in the cabin made it their mission to make Nathan feel good. They complimented him on his marksmanship. They even asked him for advice on how to shoot. Each day Nathan got nicer and he stood a little taller.boy by fire camping

When we are in conflict with someone, “Is that person happy?” is a good question to ask ourselves. It slows us down and makes us think about what is going on inside of them. We may see them as their anger or defensiveness, but if we stop to think about how truly happy they are, it makes them seem more human and relatable. We are more likely to listen and empathize with them.

Why do they attack?

Lastly, one of my friends was struggling with her relationship with her brother. They live together and seemed to fight all the time. The situation was miserable. They were either exploding at each other or tip-toeing around trying to avoid each other’s land mines.

I asked if my friend ever got vulnerable with her brother when things were heated. Did she lay down her sword? She said she did but that her brother always attacked her.

It all came to a head with a  blowout argument last week. After hearing about her brother’s temper for the hundredth time, I asked, “What is he afraid of?” My friend paused. Through the phone line I could hear her gears turning. It seems he is afraid of getting hurt, being vulnerable, showing feelings, losing his girlfriend, losing his job, etc.

After their big blowout argument, they both attempted to repair. I was not there, but I think openness and empathy played a big part in bringing them together. Thinking about what our loved one is afraid of, again makes them seem human and approachable. Because they both came to the middle with maturity and not defensiveness and anger, they gained understanding. My friend and her brother felt calm in their home, together.

Why the questions work

All three of the questions: 1. What gives/gave them a glint in their eye? 2. Are they happy? and 3. What are they afraid of? help us see inside our significant other. They make us pause and see the other person’s soft underbelly. Instead of looking like the enemy, they now look more like us.

Please let me know if you have any special disarming questions. I’d love to hear what works for you. What gave your parent(s) a glint in their eye? 

Photo by Emily Goodhart on Unsplash

Photo by Trung Thanh on Unsplash

 

Online school now open at brendaknowles.teachable.com! Please check out the courses in connection and insecure attachment. More to come!

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2 Comments

  1. Julie February 15, 2019 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    GREAT questions and they absolutely work at keeping our hearts open! I’ve been asking “what is he afraid of?” about our current administration and president ~ it helps me have more compassion for the hurt boy who desperately needs to be right. I can relate, lol. Thanks Brenda! xoxoxox

    • Brenda Knowles February 22, 2019 at 10:46 am - Reply

      Great way to reconsider our current administration’s motives — to consider what they’re afraid of. Thanks for the suggestion. Compassion heals! Nice to hear from you Julie. 🙂

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