Up until a few years ago, I used to live with my sister. We lived together for about 6 years. It was here that the two of us discovered the “power of the preamble”.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and it didn’t go as planned?
Have you ever told someone about something that had nothing to do with them and yet they took what you said personally?
You might want to experiment with preambles.
A preamble is a preliminary or preparatory statement or an introduction to what you are going to say.
When I had something to say to my sister, I started with something like… “I am worried about telling you something because I am afraid that I will look weak/pathetic/etc. But I know that when I tell you things, you help me feel better.”
…or… “I want to tell you something but here’s what I need/ask you to do while I say it.” This could be asking her to “just listen” or “give me a different perspective”.
After a preamble, then I would say what was on my mind.
What is the purpose?
The purpose, I have come to realize, is to set the stage for the conversation. You can lay out the expectations you have for yourself, the other, and the conversation. You set the intention or the reason for the conversation.
And what makes it powerful?
When you can clearly lay out expectations and the intention of the conversation, the chances of the other person taking what you say personally are much less. (Unless, of course, you intended to offend them. LOL)
Anytime we take something personally, we get defensive and guarded. We begin to (maybe unconsciously) look for how the other person is going to hurt us; we begin to listen for “hurtful things”. This doesn’t allow for clear communication that requires real listening.
If you start your conversation with a preamble, you allow the other person to drop their guard and truly listen with open ears, open mind, and open heart, without the fear of being hurt. You, in turn, will feel heard.
Using a preamble allows you to feel safer (less likely to be judged and/or attacked) and therefore increases your willingness to share.
Also, by using a preamble, in cases where you tell them what you need of them, you let the other person off the hook because they don’t have to try to figure out or try to read your mind on what you need them to do or how to behave because you’ve already told them. This allows the other person to be at ease when they listen to what you have to say. Being at ease feels good and they will learn (maybe unconsciously) that you feel good to be around and to talk to.
All of this decreases stress, builds trust and connection and strengthens the relationship.
It’s funny that we might remember to use this conversation tool when conversing with a stranger or a co-worker, but oftentimes forget to use this tool when talking with close friends or family.
A preamble doesn’t have to be used for every conversation. That would be ridiculous. But when you have something important to discuss, when you want to share something personal with another person, when you are not sure if what you need to say will land the way you want or hope it to, I encourage you to try it out.
How might a preamble help you communicate what you want to share?
How might it strengthen your relationships?
Here’s to conquering stress.
The Stress Experts
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