Chris WrightChris Wright is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. He sees clients in the Washington, D.C. area and has telephone clients from all over the world. He also has over 35 years of experience as a trainer and workshop leader in human and organizational development across the U.S. and Canada. Chris was founder and director of the Human Relations Institute in Houston, Texas. He was also the Director of PAIRS International -- training psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists in couple’s skills programs. As an innovator in the field, he has developed a unique blend of tools that increase the effectiveness in relationships -- for couples and in the workplace. He has Masters Degrees from the University of Arizona and Antioch University in Los Angeles.
Host: What does Light Tension in a road map refer to?
Chris Wright: Light Tension are the things that happen that irritates you with your partner. They are light in the sense of -- it brings up just some light aggravation, maybe you cringe a little bit. The things that need to be resolved, but they do not take discussion to resolve, but they are pretty simple things to resolve. We really focus more on what would be the solution than we are about discussing it back and forth, so that s what makes them light. If what gets triggered, if the tension that comes up is more and you really feel a need, that I need to talk about it with you, talk through, so you get what it s like from you or I want to discover what is going on for you. Then we would move up the column or move up the scale to the next column of tools that are stronger for how to discuss an issue. These tend to be like, tend to be things that you can just focus on readily to the solution and they are pretty simple to resolve. But they can be very difficult, they can generate a lot of tension and escalate into an argument. The reason for that is, we have all been in situations where somebody is doing something that bothers us, our partner is doing something bothering us or they are not doing something that we need them to do that would make a difference for us, or it s something that we would like to make a request for and we can sense that would be a sensitive issue, it could bring up some tension; even asking them to do something could bring up some tension.
So the question goes, How can I bring this up in a way that empowers you? How can I bring this in a way that supports you rather than making you feel all of a sudden disempowered or defensive in the process? Most people, when something bothers them, something irritates them, they tend to just tell you straight, they just tell you what is bugging them and it can come off in a way that is criticizing or making me wrong when you talk to me that way or feels like you are dumping on me, you are complaining, that you are nagging and all of that tends to create a shield that prevents me from feeling empowered in wanting to do it, which takes away some of my goodwill.
So it becomes important how you say things in a way that actually moves the things forward, so that you get your needs met. So in the tools we teach, again there is some tined about ten simple elements that when you follow those elements, they tend to make it all smooth and really the person finds it supportive in how they approach it. They tend to counter things like and we have all experienced it where somebody comes in and starts, jumps right in and starts telling me, what they consider to be coaching or feedback, but to me it feels like, it s like unsolicited advice for me. So there s ways that you can approach somebody, so it does not feel like you are just jumping in on them, but not that really so much is their permission. Sometimes people could make comments or responses to things that I am going working on or how I did something in a way that shows that they have no understanding at all of the pressures of what I was trying to do in what they are saying, they are just really projecting their own thing on to me. So it tends to cause the person to pull back a little bit. Other time, somebody might come in and what the advice that they are giving or the question they are asking about, they focus on the negative, I mean, they focus more on the problems and it tends out to be stinky, they do not focus on what they would like to see happen or what would be a positive response, they focus on making it feel like I have done something wrong. Others might come in and they are like a General or Sergeant, they start telling me what to do and they start directing the whole thing without any sensitivity at all that I have my own sense of values or a perspective on the issue and so. Then, lastly maybe someone comes in and they are controlling, they are righteous about it, they have a sense talking down to me in a way. Now, some people aren t triggered by some of those, but others might be and so, when I go to share something that bothers me, I want to share it in a way that blends with the person, where they feel honored in the process. So indeed, they respond in the positive way and I get my needs met. So if we do not, we could be triggering tension unnecessarily, triggering resistance unnecessarily. So these are easily learned and it s important that how we say things in a way that tends to empower the situation.