Most of us don’t even know it when we’re doing it. We do it often. Then we can’t understand how the other person gets so reactive to what we just said.
We end up thinking or saying things like,
I can’t even share how I feel. . .
I’ll just keep my mouth shut next time. . .
There’s no use in trying to talk.
We walk away disconnected, or discouraged, or outright angry.
When in personal conversation with another, the number one killer of emotional safety is Master Talk.
Master talk is a term I learned through my certification training as an Imago Therapist. Any statements that start with “You. . . ” are usually Master Talk statements.
Here are types of Master Talk and their examples. Notice the “You” statements.
Defining another person’s character negatively.
Example: You’re just being selfish. You’re too lazy to put the dishes away.
Judging another’s thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
Example: You think you have to explain yourself because your parents didn’t listen to you.
Judging another’s motives and intentions.
Example: You don’t care. All you want to do is watch TV. You don’t understand.
General bias spoken as gospel truth.
Example: All men are disconnected from their emotions. All women are controlling. Everyone has resentment. All church-goers are hypocrits.
The reality is that we have interpretations and stories in our minds about others we’re in relationship with. . . or others in general. Does anyone but God know the reason another person does or says what they do?
A way to avoid Master Talk is to speak from our own experiences. Here’s some examples of emotionally safe phrases:
How I’m experiencing you is . . . (taking ownership of your experience)
A story I have in my mind about you is. . . (not claiming it to be universal truth)
I may be wrong, but I have a theory about you. . . (willingness to be wrong)
May we strive to recognize and avoid Master Talk and seek to make our relationships emotionally safe.
Ephesians 4:35 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
Questions to Ponder
- Which Master Talk statements do you hear most often?
- Which “emotionally safe phrase” will you focus on using?
- What does “emotionally safe” mean to you?