Updated: Jun 15, 2022
An effective method of initiating Real Dialogue between individuals.
When speaking with others, it is natural to say “you said” in response to their words. This can sometimes result in the other person feeling misunderstood, or that their words are being used against them. Using “you said” may also activate defensiveness in another, particularly when what you are stating is not what the other person believes they said. This type of interaction often escalates into an argument where one partner tries to convince the other that something happened a certain way, and the other partner continues to defend their position.
In order to create more space in the interpersonal field, it can be helpful to say “I heard” or “I understood” instead of “you said” or “you meant” in response to the other’s words. This way of communicating creates a pause where one can state what they heard and how it impacted them, and the speaker can clarify their intention and what they meant. It lets the other person recognize how their words were heard, allows them to clarify their intention, and may ultimately lead to less conflictual, and more productive, conversations.
This is a technique used in Real Dialogue, a method created by Dr. Polly Young-Eisendrath, and I encourage you to try it some time. It can feel like a breath of fresh air and you may learn something new about each other in the process!