Explore the Metaphor

busI spoke with a girlfriend a few days ago about how one of her friends spread an untrue rumor about her. She told me all the details and I  understood her to feel betrayed, angry, and worried about the future of her relationship with her friend. Like a good nurse, I used reflective listening and said, “That sounds like a feeling of betrayal.” Interestingly, she denied feeling betrayed, struggled for the exact right words to describe what she was feeling, and finally settled on “being thrown under the bus” as her main feeling about the incident. I reflected that she must be angry, and she said, no, she felt like she was thrown under the bus. When I finally quit trying to identify/reflect her feelings and instead used her same phrase, our communication seemed to go much better. I said, “So this feels like you’ve been thrown under the bus.” To which she replied, excitedly, “Exactly!” Once I began to use her own metaphor, she felt heard and understood. Seems like a simple strategy, but so very important and effective. So next time someone tells you they feel like they’ve been thrown under the bus, or stabbed in the back, or made mincemeat out of them, reflect those exact words back to them and explore the metaphor. See what happens!

3 thoughts on “Explore the Metaphor

  1. So interesting, Glenda. I think I would have done the same thing. Tried to reflect what I heard in terms of a feeling word. Thanks for sharing this story and opening up my horizons to this situation! Enjoy your week, Elizabeth

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