Episode 81: Newt Bailey, Communications Expert: How to Tell Him What You Need
In this interview I learned more about how much I try to run my own agenda, forget my needs and don't really listen when I am in conversations (especially when I am triggered by my lover) than I have talking with any other communications expert. Newt Bailey, Master Communications Expert, Mediator, Facilitator and Coach brings a whole new light to communication. It is so radically loving it is almost weird.
What Newt offers is that we actually give a care about other people and what they have to say, what they need, what they are trying to express to us instead of us trying to get our own point across. He teaches us how to NEVER give up on our own needs and be a stand that EVERYONE gets what they need in a conversation. He brings a rare sense of calm and peace to conversing that I have not experienced before that gives me a renewed sense of hope that I can talk with even my FAMILY and have the experience be one of love and sustained connection.
What Newt helps us see is that we really can stay in love, remain in connection AND be boldly transparent with people if we are willing, and what an extraordinary experience that can provide. He offers a communication process that will take practice:
1) Observe the situation without judgment
2) Tap into what you are feeling
3) Communicate any needs you have
4) Make a request or ask the person how they feel about what you have juts shared.
I have to say, using this process is changing my life! Not only am I more in touch with myself and what *I* need, I am also conscious of what the other person might be needing that they might not even be aware of. Learning to communicate in this way feels very mature and powerful and totally VULNERABLE. Try it on!
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Alissa Kriteman: Welcome to “Just for Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex”. I'm your host, Alissa Kriteman. This show is dedicated to providing today's modern women with information that they need to know to make empowered, conscious choices.
Alissa Kriteman: I'm still on my tip about what it takes to make a great marriage. So whether you're dating, committed, or you've been married for five years, I think communication and the art of communication is something that we can always have more information about.
So today we're going to talk about compassionate communication. My guest today is Newt Bailey, expert communication coach and mediator. Newt, welcome to "Just For Women".
Newt Bailey: Thank you. It's nice to be here.
Alissa Kriteman: I love your accent.
Newt Bailey: Thank you. I like it, too.
Alissa Kriteman: Newt Bailey is a graduate of University College in Oxford, England. Don't get mad at me if I start talking with a bad English accent, OK?
He was the director of application development at PCWorld Communications right here in San Francisco, and presently he's a communications coach, mediator, facilitator and trainer working with couples, families and organizations.
That's a lot to work with. Who's your most favorite group?
Newt Bailey: Human beings, I think, is my favorite group but I'm doing a lot of work at the moment with couples.
Alissa Kriteman: Do you work with animals?
Newt Bailey: I have worked with animals, but it's a very simple communication process with the animals for me. But yeah, interestingly, my two favorites at the moment are working with convicts and ex-convicts, and couples. So how about that for different kinds of work?
Alissa Kriteman: Well, I guess if your communication doesn't go well as a couple you could end up as a convict.
Newt Bailey: Many of the convicts are members of couples as well. They have wives on the outside waiting for them to come out.
Alissa Kriteman: Isn't that wild? I think for our purposes I'd like to focus on women and, of course, couples. So what would you say in your estimation? What is at the heart of why communication breaks down for couples?
Newt Bailey: I think at the heart of it a breakdown in communication is first of all a breakdown in connection. If you're connecting with each other then there won't be a conflict. There might be a disagreement but not a conflict. So really it's about people not putting connection first in their communication.
And there's another word which I'll throw in there, which is the word empathy. You often have two people, both of whom are waiting for the other one to start listening and empathizing, but the other one is starting to not listen or emphasize and that's a problem.
Alissa Kriteman: All right, I can see that. Defensiveness comes to mind. If there's no empathy, is what people are doing getting defensive instead?
Newt Bailey: Defensiveness is one of many things which people might start doing. Another thing they might start doing is giving you advice that you didn't ask for or pointing out that it's why it's you that's at fault. To blame, criticizing you in some way. maybe making demands of you that you're not particularly willing to comply with. Those are just a few of the things which people can do, yeah.
Alissa Kriteman: It's really funny. I was talking to a comedienne on a prior interview and she was saying that one of their big things was she wouldn't do the dishes in the sink if it wasn't her night. She just wouldn't. She'd drink out of a vase before she would wash the dishes. Stuff like that. So you're saying it's important to give in a little.
Newt Bailey: I don't know that I'd want people to give in, actually. I think that if you really connect with each other that means that if you do something for the other person you're really clear on how that is a gift to them. It's a gift that you're giving. So it's not that you feel like you're giving in. There's actually some way in which you feel like you're making a contribution to the other person; to your partner, say. And that's very different, for me, than compromise or giving in.
Alissa Kriteman: Interesting. Wow, this is good. We're getting really deep into the heart of this because I don't think people are necessarily thinking so intently about the art of communication. OK, this is great! So what you're saying is, don't do anything you don't want to do if it's not freely given?
Newt Bailey: Yeah. We sometimes say in the work that I do, Compassionate Communication, set yourself this challenge of never doing anything which isn't a joy for you to do.
Alissa Kriteman: OK, so in the communication model you're saying... I just want to be really clear about this because I notice I'm getting confused and I think I think I communicate really well, and now I'm starting to see, "Wow, maybe I don't! Maybe I'm just giving in." Like I said, like maybe that's what I think is the appropriate thing, and you're like, "No, don't do that." Say what you need to say but offer it as something I truly want to give versus something I think I have to do," which is probably where communication starts to erode.
Newt Bailey: I would say there's a lot of truth to that, yeah. I mean if I ask you to do something for me--we're partners and I ask you to do something-- and you really don't get why it is that I want that, how that would benefit me; it just feels like an imposition on you--then you probably won't feel very willing to do it. Whereas if you really understand how that's a gift to me it may actually start feeling like a gift to you to give it to me. Once we've got that connection about how it is that my quality of life is being enhanced by you giving to me. And the same is true in reverse as well.
Alissa Kriteman: All right, what would that look like in real-time?
Newt Bailey: In real time it might be something like this:
I say to you, "I really want you to get back home by 7:00 this Friday evening and I know you quite often stay out with the girls after work. Can you do that?" At this point, I haven't given you any reason to do it.
Alissa Kriteman: No.
Newt Bailey: No. Right! There's you answer, right? Because you're looking forward to Friday night with the girls. That's what you do. Whereas, if I say to you something to the effect of , "I've just been feeling like lately we haven't spent a lot of quality time together and I know you've got a busy weekend coming up, and it would really be a great pleasure for me, and a joy for us to be able to spend an extra couple of hours Friday night before we get tired to just enjoy each other's company and reconnect. And that's why I'm asking if you're willing to do it this week. How does that sound to you?"
Alissa Kriteman: That sounds really good.
Newt Bailey: Perfect answer. Thank you.
Alissa Kriteman: OK, so context is decisive. You're saying, give a little bit more context.
Yeah, this is really good because I think--and I'm just thinking about myself and how I communicate--it's like a fire hose, you know? And I think what you're talking about is ratcheting it down and having some real, focused communication versus just running off at the mouth. And this is the art of how you keep a relationship together, AKA our theme about how to make a great marriage last.
Newt Bailey: I'd say that's very true, yeah. Another way I'd say it is that you put a little bit of yourself into whatever it is that you're asking of the other person. So rather than just asking a question you tell them why it is that you're asking the question. What it is--how are they going to make your life more wonderful by saying yes to whatever it is that you're requesting.
Alissa Kriteman: Got it. And so it's almost like it gets back to what you were saying about needs. Let's talk a little bit about that, because in that request you need something from your partner. You need to feel connected with her before the weekend starts. It's like it's really a gift that you're giving yourself, that you want to be with your partner. And letting her know about that, that's a whole other mindset. Talk to me a little bit more about your needs.
Newt Bailey: My needs and my partner's needs are the same. That's for starters in my opinion. And all humans, in my opinion, have the same set of needs. You know, we might say that these needs are to be loved, to be cared about, compassion, respect, enough space and clean air. Whatever they might be. These are the needs which human beings have.
So if I'm aware of that, then me making reference to those needs is creating a connection with my partner straightaway because she has those, too. She wants a sense of connection with me. She wants a sense of fun. She wants quality time, also. So by me naming that, I'm immediately creating connection. At least that's my intention for doing it.
Alissa Kriteman: Right, and you said connection is the number one thing. So that is a clear example of creating connection before we move on to anything else. How else do we create connection?
Newt Bailey: What I was doing there was kind of honestly expressing why I want her to come home on Friday evening. So that's me expressing honesty and that's one half of this in terms of the skills. It's quite simple in a way because the other half is, rather than me putting my attention on myself, which I was doing then, "Here's why I want you to come back," I put my attention on her and I just say something to the effect of, "How do you feel about coming home at 7:00 this coming Friday?" So I'm interested in her feelings about this. I'm putting my attention on her rather than on myself, and that's the other half of it for me.
Alissa Kriteman: I like that. There's a lot of finesse in this. And it's, I would say, a hallmark of a mature relationship that we're even talking about the art of communication and how to communicate.
So, how do men communicate differently from women? Is that in there or are you saying it doesn't matter what sex you are, the roles are the same, I can do it just as easily over there in your world, I could use the same thing? Or do men want to be spoken to in a different way?
Newt Bailey: Wow, that's a big one. Obviously I run a big risk of running into a lot of generalizations but let's go for it anyway. A couple of things about men:
Men have the same needs as women but the needs which show up for them more frequently might be different. For example, men may be way more focused on having a sense of power or status in a relationship, where women might be more likely to have a leaning towards wanting to meet the need for connection. These are generalizations arising out of a lot of study but it also maps to my experience working with couples and with people in general.
So one thing which comes up for men very frequently, connected with that sense of power, is autonomy. Feeling like they have a choice about what it is that they're doing. And their need for autonomy and choice can be triggered very quickly by any slight hint that they're not being given a choice, even if that's not your intention.
Alissa Kriteman: I know that one well.
Newt Bailey: Right. Right. So that's something I would say to watch out for. And bear in mind that women also have a need for autonomy and choice. No different. So it's just something to be aware of, that if your male partner suddenly appears to be getting triggered about something and getting upset or angry or something there's a good chance that that's to do with the fact that he has a sense that he's not being given a choice about what's happening.
So in a situation like that I'd just say something to the effect of, "Do you need to be sure that you're getting a choice in this?" and, "I'm just requesting it rather than making a demand." Just to name it, just so that it's out there.
Alissa Kriteman: Right. If you feel that tension coming up how would we say it straight out in a way that's not manipulative but offers a man choice?
Newt Bailey: Well, this takes us in the territory of willingness to hear the answer, "No," which is a very huge issue for many people. It triggers a lot of pain and a lot of fear and a lot of anger to hear the answer "no" sometimes. And it's not necessarily anything to do with your partner. It's often to do with stuff from the past.
But the way that I would do this, in a way which really conveys to my partner or to anyone really, that they have choice, would be to say, "I want you to know that you're fully at choice about this but my preference would be that you, say, come with me to visit my mother on the weekend. I'd really love you to give up those couple of days to do that with me. But I want to know how you feel about it rather than making a demand on you."
And you notice that if I do that, then the person may have very strong preference and not come with me on the weekend, and I have to be ready to talk through that and to get to the bottom of that.
Alissa Kriteman: Wow, we really get into that whole "not being enmeshed in your partner". They have a life, too, and just because we really want them to do something, they might not want to do it and that's OK. And it really starts to unearth...
I don't know what I thought we were going to talk about, but wow! We just went straight into it. It's great! I love it. I love that we just dove right in. There wasn't any pussyfooting around here about communication. It's like, "No, it's pretty much everything and you've got to start with connection." And also, again, it speaks to that being able to be a mature, responsible, autonomous adult that is connected and can hear "no". So I think that's a really valid point.
Newt Bailey: I agree, definitely. And also, not just to be able to hear no; to say no is another big thing. And when you for the differences, sometimes between men and women there's another issue which comes up.
Men very often, if they hear that a woman has some unmet needs--she's not happy about something, and especially if that woman happens to be their partner--then they often turn that into a demand upon themselves that they have to do something about it. They have to fix that.
And there's a counterpart to that, that, which often happens with women in my experience, which is that a woman will basically very frequently put many other people, if not everyone else's needs, ahead of her own, which is a recipe for a growing resentment, maybe over years and years. And so that for me is one of the results of actually not being comfortable saying no, or not knowing how to say no in a way which is still compassionate. Finding a compassionate way to say no.
Alissa Kriteman: We're going to take a break, and when we come back we're going to hear more about how to say no with compassion.
I'm Alissa Kriteman. We're with Newt Bailey, expert communication coach, facilitator, trainer. Really, wow! I really like everything that you're saying and I'm so excited to come back and talk a little bit more.
So, listeners, I'd love it if you would check out the sponsors that are on the ads that are coming up. They support "Just For Women" and so if you can check them out I would really appreciate it.
This is Alissa Kriteman, I'm with Newt Bailey, and we'll be right back.
Alissa Kriteman: Welcome back. I'm Alissa Kriteman, your host of "Just For Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex". We're here talking with Newt Bailey about how to be a conscious, compassionate communicator.
So, Newt, before the break we were talking about women and our challenge with saying no, and our challenge with having needs and being able to own them and have them met. So what can you share with us about... well, where do you want to start? I have so much I want to ask you. Let's start with the saying no. I mean, maybe that feeds into the neediness, or that women think they are if they state their needs or go for their needs. So, what do you have to say about that?
Newt Bailey: Well, starting with saying no, any time you say no to something it's because you're saying yes to something else. It's not like you're going to stop existing while not doing the thing you're being asked to do. You're going to do something else.
And so if someone asks me to do something I don't want to do I'm going to say, "Well, actually, what I really want to do during that time is this," or "What I really want to do right now is this," whatever the other thing is. And so my preference would be to say no to whatever you're asking me to do right now, but I'm interested: how is it for you to hear me say that--that I don't want to do what you're asking me to do?
So I'm explaining what I want to do instead, and I'm also showing that I'm interested in the person who is talking to me. I want to know how that lands for them. I want to find out. If they're upset hearing me say no, I want to hear that.
Alissa Kriteman: That's amazing! This is really good. I think this is going to transform my relationship forever. So you say no but then you check in with the person feelings instead of just saying, "No, I don't want to do that"?
Newt Bailey: Yeah, and that's for two reasons for me. The first reason is that I do genuinely care about what the person is experiencing. I find that by having a degree of care about the person I'm in communication with, or in a relationship with, especially, that's going to enhance the relationship. So that's important just on its own.
The other thing is this -- and this is a more subtle point -- when they tell me their response there is the possibility that I will actually change. I may actually hear, "I'm so disappointed to hear that you don't want to do that right now," you know, to go and see this movie or whatever it was they just asked me to do, "because I was really jazzed about it all day and I was really excited, and I got it into my head that you were going to come along with me. And so I am really disappointed because I love going to movies but it's so much more fun when I go with you, and I love to have that fun." And it's possible that I might, if I check in with myself, like, "Oh does that change my desire? Yeah, it does, actually. Oh, OK. I'll come with you."
Alissa Kriteman: All right, that kind of smells like manipulation. What do you have to say about that?
Newt Bailey: I suppose we could call it manipulation if the other person was somehow getting me to do something which I didn't actually want to do. So I'm glad that you asked that because it's a very great distinction to me.
I'm asking them how they feel about me saying no because I'm interested in the answer, and if that answer changes my viewpoint that's cool. It's me that's changing. I'm checking in with myself and saying, "Oh, given what I've just heard from her do I still want to do my work on the computer that I was planning this evening or do I now feel more like I want to go with her to the movies?" And if I genuinely can say, "You know, truth be told I now want to go with her to the movies," that kind of opened my heart a little bit towards the idea, you know? "Hey, I'm going to do that." That's not manipulation for me. That's just being honest. And guess what? Things have changed from two minutes ago to now. I now want to go with you, where before I wanted to stay home.
Alissa Kriteman: OK, good. All right, so let's talk a little bit more about needs. I really like that. I really like that. You've just shifted the whole concept of saying no and what I'm really getting from this conversation is that we tend to think of communication as black and white. "I want this." "OK, no, I'm not on board." "Yes, I am on board."
But you're talking about a whole other realm of communication where your heart is involved and empathy is involved; really caring about the other person.
What if it's a particular situation where maybe work, or some other group involvement where you don't particularly have an affinity for the person you're communicating with? What do you do then?
Newt Bailey: You know, I know amazing stories that relate to this.
For example, someone speaking to someone, a representative of a credit card company, about, "Hey, I don't think you should have charged me this fee," and the credit card company person saying, "Well, I'm sorry madam, that's just our policy." But the person--the customer--saying, "You know, I want to tell you why I'm worried about this fee," and actually going into why it is they're worried about it for themselves. And then saying to the human being who works for the credit card company, "But forget me for a moment. I'm guessing that for you it's a really awkward position to be put in to. Having someone calling up like this who really doesn't want to pay a fee and you've just got to tell them that they have to. I imagine that's kind of not a particularly pleasant position to be in." And actually forming in the space of a couple of minutes a human connection with the person at the credit card company who then, within the next few minutes, said, "You know what? I can just uncheck a box here and you won't have to pay it."
And I've heard these stories from a number of different people. That even when you have no affinity for the organization, an organization is a load of human beings, and if you can form a connection with one of those human beings it's a totally different situation.
Alissa Kriteman: I can just see, though, I can just see people getting wind of this. Especially those kind of flashy Internet marketers who want to sell you something and they use that emotive, subconscious, emotional, you know, “Yada yada.” I read about this all the time, where it's almost like some kind of substitute for actually, really caring about people. How is this not that?
Newt Bailey: I actually give we humans an awful lot of credit, and I've been through a lot of experiential stuff which has shown me that this is true. People can read, in my opinion, quite quickly if you're not genuine. So, yes, you might get away with something--dressing up your language as if you really when you actually don't. It's certainly not going to work in your relationship for very long, right? But even if you are in a company and you're doing that with your clients, they're going to catch on pretty soon in my opinion. That's certainly my hope. And so I think fake usage of care and compassion doesn't get you very far.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah, it's like maybe that stuff will work and you'll sell your product or something but over the long haul it's got to be exhausting, I would think.
Newt Bailey: Yeah, and what's going to happen is that when people catch on to that kind of thing they're not going to refer you to their friends. In fact, they're possibly going to do the opposite, which is to say, "You know what? I thought this guy was great at first, but later on I started thinking it was a kind of fraudulent use of caring language that he was using and to be honest, I can't recommend him to you. I would go somewhere else." And you don't want that in business. You don't want to invite that kind of negative publicity.
Alissa Kriteman: All right, let's get back to women and needs. Because I know for myself that when you said that earlier about women not owning that they have needs and that it's OK to have needs, I feel like many women have been indoctrinated exactly in that way. And there's this whole, "Run like fire if your partner is needy!" And when that word comes up it's like people flip out if their partner shows any signs of neediness. So how do we come to terms with that we have needs?
Newt Bailey: Well, first of all do what you can to get rid of the judgment "needy" from your vocabulary. I wouldn't use it about yourself and I wouldn't use it about anyone else unless you're willing to use it about every human being. Because in my opinion every human needs to eat, every human needs sleep, every human needs love. So if that makes every person needy, then OK, every person is needy. But not just you.
And that includes your partner, your husband, whoever. They have those same needs, too. They may be not willing to say that, to own up to it. That may be true. But it doesn't make them any different from you in having those needs. You take away their freedom, you take away respect from them, you take away choice from them or love from them, and you'll see a reaction. Why do you see that reaction? Because it's important to them to meet those needs. So that's the first thing I would say about that.
Alissa Kriteman: That actually shifts something. Because without that stigma then you're searching for, "What does this person need?" Right? It just shifts everything. It takes out the judgment. I just got that in this moment. Like, "Oh then I could actually use some real empathy." Like, "What is this person trying to communicate with me? What does he need?"
Newt Bailey: Yeah, and you can take that to a really great degree. Like, you could at this precise moment--you can try it if you like--you can call me the worst name that you can imagine right now and because of my training in this work I'm not going to leap to my defense. My interest is in what is it you're feeling right now and what need is it that's not being met. I must be doing something that really is not enjoyable for you and I want to know what it is.
Alissa Kriteman: So if I called you an asshole... "Asshole!" What would you say?
Newt Bailey: I'd say, "I just heard you call me an asshole. I'm guessing I must have done something that you're really not enjoying and I'd love for you to tell me what it is that you saw me do or heard me do."
Alissa Kriteman: I saw you look away when you were talking about the last segment and so I thought that you're not trustable.
Newt Bailey: OK, well I'm glad that you told me that because I really want to get your trust and I really want you to know that I'm taking this interview very seriously, and I want to give you full respect for the work that you're doing.
Alissa Kriteman: So what's a great way for women to own their needs and communicate their needs?
Newt Bailey: What I would say is be honest about it and get to what it is that is really there for you to need. Not, "I need you to drive me to the store." It's, "I would really love the rest and support that I would get from you driving me to the store." The need is for rest and support.
And then the way that you don't make a demand on him--or on whoever you're asking--is, there are many other ways you can get to the store. That's the truth. There are other people who could drive you. There are taxis. There are lots of other resources and strategies for you to meet your needs for ease and support around getting to the store. So knowing that what you're wanting is something about the ease and support frees up your mind to look at other ways that you can do that if that's not in harmony with what he wants to do right now.
But I would say convey those needs. Convey how it will support you for him to help you out in that particular way.
Alissa Kriteman: Right, because even if it's your partner that's not doing it you're going to need that skill to communicate to other people what it is you need and are wanting in that moment so maybe they might be able to help you out.
But really coming from this open-ended, "Hey this is what I need. Are you someone that could fulfill this?" without a sort of demand or, "You have to be the one," I think, is really helpful. It really helps me, and I would think women in general, to really own, "Wow, I have a need to want to rest right now and I have a need to want to be helped in this particular way, and that's OK."
Newt Bailey: Yeah, I totally agree.
Alissa Kriteman: OK, so let's talk about this model. I know that there's a model that you actually follow for Compassionate Communication and we've been talking a little bit about it. It's sort of woven into a lot of what we're saying. And that's what I think is masterful about what you're saying. That we don't even know that there's a model happening but who you're being, about how you're communicating, it's built in there. So can you break it down a little bit for us who might just be learning about Compassionate Communication?
Newt Bailey: Yeah. it breaks down like this:
For starters, you make a distinction between what you're seeing and hearing versus what you're thinking about it. How you're interpreting it and so on.
So if you see a certain look on your husband's face, you see a look. He's got one eyebrow higher than the other, whatever it is. That's what you're seeing. And then your interpretation, your thoughts about it, are, "Oh, he's miserable about something. He thinks that I did something bad," for example. Well, that's your thought about it. So just to be aware that those are two separate things--what you're seeing and what you think about it--it's nice to notice the difference, for starters.
Having made that distinction, then--this is not necessarily all the time, but any time things are a little bit tense--I really recommend then that you give attention to, how are you feeling right now? Like, are you feeling worried? Are you feeling anxious? Are you feeling concerned? I'm looking for one-word answers here. I'm not talking about, "I feel like he's being unreasonable." That's not the kind of feeling I'm talking about.
Alissa Kriteman: No external referencing. It's all about us.
Newt Bailey: Yeah, it's all about you. Exactly. So make it all about you.
And then, what are you needing right now? You're needing some reassurance that you're going to have a fun evening. You're really needing a sense of connection. You're really needing some understanding about why his eyebrow is one higher than the other.
So, what are you observing? How are you feeling about it? What need do you have right now in this moment? And then, is there a request that you could make which would help you to meet that need?
So if you have a need for understanding it might sound like this--I'll give you an example:
You might say, "Hey Brian, the look on your face--this look where you get one eyebrow higher than the other--I interpret that, my thought is, that you're upset with me about something. I don't know if that's true or not but I'm feeling kind of worried. I'm really wanting some understanding about what's going on with you at the moment. Would you be willing to tell me something about how you're doing right now?"
Alissa Kriteman: That would take a lot of courage, I would think. Especially if you are feeling weird about somebody acting in a way that's maybe aggressive or angry, right?
Newt Bailey: Yeah, and that's why we come back to... the same model can be used, especially the feelings and needs part of it. If he then responds in a way which is not enjoyable for you--like maybe he gets upset; he demonstrates he really is by saying some things--that's where I would suggest that you now switch your focus from yourself because it sounds like he doesn't want to hear about you right now. You know, about your feelings, your needs at this moment. Not in this moment.
So I would just switch focus to him. And you might just do it silently in your head. That can be amazingly effective. Or you might say it out loud, like, "OK, there's something about what I just said that you're not liking and I'm guessing, maybe, what is it? You just want a bit of space? You just got home from work and you don't want to talk about this right now? Is that true?" You're just checking out with him, what's his reality at this moment?
Alissa Kriteman: Wow, this is so generous. Because I can see where I have many times in the past, taken things personally. So it's like you're depersonalizing. Taking the personal out of the interaction.
Newt Bailey: Yeah, it's that saying, "QTIP". Q-T-I-P. "Quit Taking It Personally."
Alissa Kriteman: Ah! I like that! That's good!
Newt Bailey: Yeah. This is QTIP in action, you know?
Alissa Kriteman: Do you have t-shirts? We should make t-shirts: "QTIP!" I like that!
Newt Bailey: Yeah, it is. But I want to make really, really strongly clear here: this is not about you ever giving up on your needs.
If you have a need for understanding I'm not saying, "Oh he's getting upset so give up on the fact that you have a need for understanding." It just means maybe you need to, you know maybe you're going to get the understanding in ten minutes time; in two minutes time.
A lot of conflict actually comes with people, "I need it now! I can't wait two minutes," you know, "I can't wait until after you've eaten. I can't wait until tomorrow morning. I need it." Whatever it is, understanding, respect, love, affection, touch, whatever it is, "I need it now." And sometimes giving a person a little bit of space and compassion and empathy for a few minutes, it's amazing how that can shift the whole energy of the situation. Right?
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah. Well, good stuff! I really like that. QTIP! Quit thinking it's personal. Is that it?
Newt Bailey: Well, "quit taking it personally", but both are good, yeah.
Alissa Kriteman: I like that. All right, we're going to take a break and then when we come back I want to talk about sex in communication, OK?
I'm Alissa Kriteman. I'm speaking with Newt Bailey, communication expert as we can clearly see. Wow, this is really cool! I could talk to you all day, but I think sex is the most important thing we could talk about next, so we'll be right back.
Alissa Kriteman: I'm Alissa Kriteman. We're back. Today we're speaking with Newt Bailey, communications expert, mediator. I could see where a lot of this, wow! Really putting the heart back into communication. And QTIP, "quit taking it personally"-- love that!. That's going to be my new thing, especially for myself. I can be so sensitive and I know that really erodes a relationship. I know it drives my partner nuts, especially if I'm, like, kind of looping thinking that it's about me. It really isn't and it's really almost no place for a relationship.
So, own my needs; I can get them met from a lot of other people other than my partner. Leave it open-ended; no demands. And don't take things so personally.
The model that you mentioned was to observe what's going on; feel how I'm feeling, not how the other person might be occurring to me; and then, what are my needs, really communicating that; and then, if I have a request. Yeah?
Newt Bailey: Exactly.
Alissa Kriteman: All right, great. So let's talk about sex. In the bedroom, does the same model apply or are there different ways to finesse the communication?
Newt Bailey: I think that in and out of bathroom... erm, the bedroom. And the bathroom!
Alissa Kriteman: Where are you having sex?
Newt Bailey: Wherever you're having sex, you can finesse this. Like the sentence I said before--it was kind of lumpy or something, clumsy--you can always finesse things more. But certainly everything that I'm talking about is just as applicable, certainly, in my bedroom as anywhere else, for sure. Do you have something in mind?
Alissa Kriteman: Well, I was just thinking, like, if there is a new position you wanted to try, because this seems really formal. I don't know, is it too formal for the bedroom? All right, say I wanted to, like, live a fantasy and I want to be, like, tied up and have my partner dress up as Zorro...
Newt Bailey: OK...
You're wondering how you would ask for this?
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah, and maybe I'm too shy to ask for it.
Newt Bailey: There's a way of using these skills we've been talking about which is just silent and just on your own and I suggest you do that first. We call this "self-empathy".
It just means you're not telling anyone yet. I mean, you can tell a friend or something if you want but just first of all, like, what is it you're wanting to do? Okay, Zorro, and being bound. How do you feel when you think about doing that, you know? "Well, I feel excited and kind of titillated." And what needs do I think that's going to meet for me? "Well, just sort of fun and a certain aliveness and a certain kind of sense of adventure with my partner that we're going into unknown territory. We've been together for 15 years or whatever, but here we go into Zorroland, you know? So that's what's in it for me and that's why I want to request it."
Now, having got clear on that, what's going to be your response if your partner says no? That's the big question as well. And what I propose is that-- as we've said before--I propose that you make your response curiosity about why he's saying no.
Alissa Kriteman: OK, instead of getting shut down and resigned.
Newt Bailey: Exactly, because if you show curiosity about that you never know what you're going to find out. And it may be that he prefers Superman. That's why he saying no.
Alissa Kriteman: Right. Or the guy from Watchman, you know, that big blue guy?
Newt Bailey: I think I'm familiar with the big blue guy, yeah.
Alissa Kriteman: OK, so be curious. It's like, no is a no in this moment and the next moment's another thing so instead of going for the shutdown--again, QTIP: not taking it personally, "Well, what is it? Let's talk about it."
Newt Bailey: Exactly. And the way I'd say it, "A no is a no but it's a yes to something else, so find out what the something else is." And if you're really curious and you really want the connection--you really want to have a full, honest relationship with him--you'll figure it out.
Alissa Kriteman: What else? You've worked with many, many, many, many couples and probably lots of other people, too, single and whatnot. What is the biggest thing that people deal with in communication breakdown?
Newt Bailey: With couples I think some of the big ones are, certainly sex is a huge one of course, and...
Alissa Kriteman: What do you mean? Not getting needs met or not knowing how to communicate?
Newt Bailey: Often something about a perceived imbalance in how much each person wants to have sex or when they want to have sex, that kind of thing. And so does it start feeling like a demand to one person or the other? That I have to do this for you but it's no fun for me, or something like that. Or, "Oh this used to be fun but now it's kind of old because we just do the same thing over and over again." Stuff like that.
Alissa Kriteman: Does that speak to something bigger--a bigger breakdown in the relationship that's leaking out in the sexuality? Or is that pretty much, "Hey this is a sexual thing"?
Newt Bailey: I don't know that it is a specific one thing but what I would say is that if you are in conflict about something and it looks like what you are in conflict about is sex, it doesn't necessarily mean that sex is the real problem. Sex is just the action that you're taking where this particular thing comes up.
But it may be that if you show an interest in each other's needs that what it's much more about is a sense of not getting the tenderness or gentleness that you want from your partner. Or not getting a sense of what we might call "loving presence"--they're really present with you and they're showing this love and this care and for you, if that goes, then your enjoyment of sex changes or something like that.
Very often there's some other very fundamental human needs that you both have, but which are coming up for you, or for him, in some way. And it's by getting in touch with those that you really have a sense of connection from which new ideas come up, and a renewed kind of enthusiasm for whatever it is, in this case sex.
Alissa Kriteman: Wow. Was there anything else you wanted to say about some of the big things that couples deal with in breakdowns in communication? I like that--to get really curious about that maybe it's not about the sex at all but it's actually about the needs. It sounds like a lot comes back to empathy and needs.
Newt Bailey: I come back to empathy and needs multiple times every day with everyone I work with. And when I see people clashing, fighting, arguing, what is absent is empathy between those people. What is absent is any curiosity about the other person's needs. And what is absent is compassion and connection. Those are the things which disappear and then conflict springs up. Big or small conflict. It might be just bickering, but that can wear you down, too, as we all know, you know.
Alissa Kriteman: So that's a great way to locate ourselves if we find ourselves struggling with someone. Because I always like to have, "OK, what's the quick thing I can do in the moment to shift my mind?" because I notice I'm getting agitated or angry with my partner. Or with anybody--it could be a family member, it could be a colleague.
And so you're saying, look for, "OK, where's the compassion? Where's the connection? Where's the empathy?" and then kind of locate there. Would that be a part of the observation? Because then we've got, "What are my needs?", "What are my feelings?" and then, "What's my request?" I think it's important. I like using that model myself. But it sounds like the first locator is this connection, compassion, empathy kind of thing.
Newt Bailey: Yeah, it's like before you even get into observation and feeling need and requests--before you even start going there--you can look at the other person and you can ask yourself the question, "Are we connecting right now or are we not?" And if they're screaming at you, or if they're walking out of the door, or whatever it is, the answer's, "No."
It can be a lot more subtle than that, but we know when we're connecting and when we're not a lot of the time. So it's just a thing about you're opening your mouth to speak or you're opening your ears to listen; make it so that your aim is connection all the time. Because if there's no connection it's very unlikely that you're going to get your other needs met. You won't get your need to be heard, met--you won't get the respect or the love that you want, you won't get the ease that you want, whatever it is--without that connection.
Alissa Kriteman: I like that. I was just thinking, regardless of who it is, when you connect with someone there's so much more energy there. There's so much more aliveness and excitement.
We've got to go. So, what's one thing you want to women in particular with? Clearly you're going to be connecting with a lot of women through this interview. What's the one nugget that you want to empower women with?
Newt Bailey: I think what I would say is, become familiar with a language of emotions and needs. Maybe you'll even supply your listeners with a list of human emotions and needs to help them out. And check in with that on your own, in your own time, 30 seconds a day or something like that. "What am I feeling and what am I needing at this moment?" So it becomes like the air that you breathe and it's just available to you to see yourself and other human beings, including your partner, in that way. It will transform things just if you start doing that.
Alissa Kriteman: Awesome! Newt, how can we find you?
Newt Bailey: You can find me at communicationdojo.com and you can find me at newtbailey.com. "Communication", and then "dojo" is D-O-J-O dot com. And "newtbailey": N-E-W-T-B-A-I-L-E-Y dot com.
Alissa Kriteman: Fantastic! Ladies, check him out. Wow! This is one of the keys to the kingdom, I think.
I thought we were going to talk about... I don't know what I thought, but I think it's so important for us to hear that women being alright with their needs and self-care, that whole idea of being selfish-- no! It's about self-care. And I know we didn't touch upon that but it's kind of woven into the whole, "be respectful of your needs and go for them," and "take care of yourself."
Newt Bailey: I like to say be "selfful". You don't have to be selfish, you don't have to be selfless. You can be "selfful".
Alissa Kriteman: And, really quickly, "selfful", the distinction on this is...
Newt Bailey: That you are full of value for yourself, and that means you're full of value for your love for others also. It means you're putting yourself and others on equal footing and you're caring about both.
Alissa Kriteman: Thank you. Thank you so much for bringing this. This really is such a beautiful piece of communication. And, yeah, I wasn't really getting the heart piece in this. So thank you for bringing that in, really allowing us to see and tap in and center in ourselves--our hearts--the love that we really want to feel and share with our partners. This is such an amazing piece. I didn't know that before. So thank you. I really appreciate it.
This is Alissa Kriteman, your host of "Just For Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex." That was Newt Bailey. Fantastic! And I will post the feelings and emotions just so you can see them on the blog.
And that brings us to the end of the show. Thank you so much for listening. For text and transcripts of this show and other shows on the Personal Life Media network, just visit personallifemedia.com.
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