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Ep.54: The Vibration of Words

Robyn Openshaw - Oct 25, 2017 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

Picture of GreenSmoothieGirl Robyn Openshaw wearing leopard print shirt from "Ep.07: 13 Secrets For High Vibration Parenting" by Green Smoothie Girl

Today I’m so excited to be talking to you about one of my favorite books and one of my favorite subjects and that is, Crucial Conversations. Words have charge. Words have electrical charge. There are things we’ve said that we can’t take back, things that we remember forever. I want you to think about the impact of words today. I want you to become very aware of the incredible power language has to help others around us heal, to help others feel our love and to help others feel supported. Words can also hurt like medical lasers can. That’s because both of them, both the words and medical lasers are just focused frequencies. Enjoy!


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Robyn:                    Hey everyone is Robyn Openshaw and welcome back to Your High Vibration Life. Today I’m so excited to be talking to you about one of my favorite books and one of my favorite subjects and that is Crucial Conversations. What we’re talking about is the fact that words have charge. Words have energies. Before we get started I just want to mention that Vibe, my book I’ve been working on for years, is about to come out to the world. I’m so excited about it and in honor of that, just for you, my followers here on Your High Vibration life, I have a special deal on a video masterclass I’ve made for you where the book is included in the package.

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Today I want to talk to you about how words have electrical charge. Things we’ve said that we can’t take back, things that we remember forever. I want you to think about the impact of words today towards a goal that we become very aware of the incredible power they have to help others around us heal, to help others feel our love, to help others feel supported or to create fear, panic, unease. Words can hurt like medical lasers can and words can heal too and you know what? That’s because both of them, both the words and medical lasers are just focused frequencies. Words sear into our minds and are retained in our energies forever, some words anyways.

In the coming weeks I want you to notice how many times someone references a conversation they had decades ago, even 50 years ago, that they still remember like it was yesterday. I asked questions on my personal Facebook page to learn more about people’s experiences with the words. I’ve had several posts in the past few weeks as I was preparing for this podcast episode that have been super fascinating to me that a few hundred people weighed in on. On Facebook recently, on my personal page I posted, “What did a teacher tell you when you were young that had you feeling like a million bucks and what did a teacher tell you that cut like a knife?” My post went viral as people shared. They all had a story to share. The power of a few words by a teacher. This might have been when we were in second grade or fifth grade or eighth grade and people in their 50s and 60s were answering this question, words they had remembered for literally 50 years.

I also asked on Facebook recently, “When someone criticizes you or says something hurtful how long do you hang on to it?” I knew that there would be some really great life lessons in the answers that people gave and there were some amazing stories that people shared. One of my followers, Holly, who is in her late 60s and recently did our detox told a story of being the surrogate for her brother and how after she gave birth and gave this baby to her brother and his wife they never wanted to talk to her again and how devastating that was for her.

Another one of our followers, I will call her Maria, went into a private message and left me a long voicemail and she was fine with me sharing her story without names, but when she was in high school she ran around with about five girls and they were all dear friends their whole lives and spent a lot of time together and shortly after one of her friends got married young and all the friends were invited to the wedding except for her. Well Maria was devastated by not being invited to her friend’s wedding and she asked one of the other girlfriends, “Why am I not invited to the wedding?” And the friend said, “It’s just because it’s a small venue and they couldn’t invite everyone.”

Well, our friend Maria held on to this for many, many years and literally 20 years later she was at a high school reunion and she had missed out on the friendship of this group of girls who continued to hang out together and she was never, never to be friends with them again. 20 years later the friend who got married and the friend who told her that there just wasn’t room for her at the wedding tried to come up to our friend Maria and Maria snubbed them and walked away and wouldn’t speak to them. Well, many more years passed and 35 years after being left out of one of her best friends weddings she asked to have lunch with this friend and when they went out to lunch she said, “I really want to talk to you about something and I know this is really old and it’s a long time to be hurt over this, but why wasn’t I invited to your wedding?”

The friend’s eyes got big, big and her mouth was hanging open and she said, “You weren’t invited to my wedding?” She said, “Maria, my mother controlled everything about that wedding. You know my mom. My mom was very, very controlling. I had no idea who was invited and who wasn’t.” 35 years of lost friendship with all of these five girls. The life lesson I learned from that is how powerful communication is and so how powerful a lack of communication is. What a tragedy that they could have talked about it 35 years before and all of them could have enjoyed that rich friendship well into their adulthood.

When I got married I was only 20 years old. We got married so young I always felt during my 20 year marriage like we raised each other. Things that I said to him he remembered for two decades like they were electrical current. You’ll realize how impactful words are if you think about a sexually charged environment, how fraught that is, with intense energetic frequencies and those words you choose become part of that whole experience including memories that you might remember for a lifetime. My friend, I’ll call him Roger, had an affair recently. He told me that the woman he had an affair with called him babe or baby and his comment to me was, “My wife never said that or anything like that. It was nothing special.” He said to me. Of course it was special to be called those terms of endearment.

We meet thousands of people in a lifetime and only a few ever use words with this kind of charge. These kinds of words are electrically charged with meaningful energies. It’s the energy field of intimacy and it elicits floods of hormones and it causes bonding that is hard to contain or even quantify. Words are so powerful that whoever said, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Must have been smoking crack because I remember words said to me that made me sore as high as the clouds, that made me feel like my work mattered or that my teacher loved me and approved of me and I can think of words that were said to me that destroyed my spirits for days or weeks, far more than something that skinned my knee or even broke a bone.

Lately I have been doing a word detox, which I highly recommend. I have done it before, but I have chosen to not swear for 30 days and you might think, “Well that’s strange. I don’t really see you being much of a swearer.” Well, I do swear occasionally and I wish I didn’t and before I have grandchildren I have to give up swearing for good. Even if use were around your children now and then nobody would swear around their grandchildren, but I’ve been doing a word detox to see what happened and here’s the interesting thing after 30 days of not swearing. Keep in mind, I don’t swear to be unkind to people. My swearing tends to be under my breath at myself when I fault in tennis, especially if I double fault in tennis, but here’s the crazy thing. As soon as I stopped swearing at myself in tennis I started winning.

I have been winning and winning. I’m winning playing with different partners. I’m playing super tough opponents like line one, best team in the state. I’m winning in practice. I’m winning in competitive matches. I am a believer in when I clean up my negative self talk, which is really what my swearing tends to be, good things happen, more positive energies are flowing. So let’s talk a little bit about words and on a more global level, the larger construct, let’s talk about sentences and conversations and patterns of interaction with people in our work and our personal lives. One of my favorite books I mentioned when we got started is called Crucial Conversations and it’s by Patterson et al. They are four PhD researchers who are the authors of this book.

In their research these four authors went into companies and they found the people that others designate as, “Here’s the person I go to when I have a problem.” They didn’t actually all end up being managerial or executive level employees, but they pulled everyone and they took those few people that everyone said they trusted and were problem solvers in the business, and what they found, this is what the book is based on, they focused their research on this, is what these people said and did. What they found is that these rare people had the ability to have the hard conversations with people that are honest, but are also delivered well with compassion and honesty at the same time, and when people were willing to take that middle road, that high road, it’s a very narrow path, messages were also received well, even when receiving bad news.

These are the people who have the courage to tell it to you straight. The second thing I really got out of reading Crucial Conversations many years ago is that most people, most of the time default to one of two communication styles. Both of these communication styles are really ineffective and can actually be very, very hurtful both in the personal realm and in the professional realm. As soon as something gets difficult most people will resort to either violence or silence. While you’re listening to this episode or afterward, if you’re reflecting on it, I’d love for you to think about whether you have a weakness for falling into a pattern of one of these two styles or both. Most of us do. Or if you are one of those few who tell it to people straight. You tell people the things that no one else will tell them but you and that conversation with a stronger relationship.

That’s what the researchers in Crucial Conversations found, is that when people are direct and they have the hard conversation, but they do it with the right vibration, that person is able to go out of the conversation with their head held high strong in their knowledge that you care about them and make some changes, but they leave with their dignity intact. So when you go into a crucial conversation … I’m going to make you squirm here for a minute if you’re willing to go to a really honest and self-reflective appraisal place right now, we all must either have these Crucial Conversations or we have to do a long, painful dance to avoid the conversation and meanwhile the situation that’s not being discussed gets worse.

We have to have these conversations with our children, don’t we? Or our spouse. Probably both. People we manage in our work or our manager or our coworkers. Imagine some of the really difficult conversations that you’ve had to have. Do you avoid the difficult topic? Do you say cutting things with what we might call a dirty motive, which is to say that there’s a subtext to what you’re saying, that you intend to wound the other person regardless of how you might put a pretty bow on it to excuse yourself. Do you couch insults in soft words? That’s one of the ways that people describe as passive-aggressive. Or are you like the people studied in the Crucial Conversations book, then research by the authors, who have these tough conversations and are frank and honest while also loving and supportive. So here’s the thing. You can be both. You can be frank and honest and you can be loving and supportive at the same time.

I want to talk more about silence because we all know violence. Violence is critical, name calling, condescending, attacking, bullying. We’ve all experienced it. It’s right out there for everyone to see. We’ve all had a parent or a sibling, a boss, a lover who used these tactics. They’re pretty common out there in the real world. That one is really obvious, but here’s the thing about people who use silence as punishment. Other names that might go by are stonewalling, sabotage. These behaviors are often called passive-aggressive. They are some of the forms that silence takes. These are every bit as toxic to a relationship and when you’re on the receiving end of it it feels like shadow boxing with a ghost because you can’t really call it out. You can try, but that kind of communication, that passive-aggressive silent communication is actually set up for the bully inflicting the silent treatment to just deny the intent of it. So it’s almost impossible to call it out and have an honest conversation about it.

When I was married very young at the age of 20 I had come from a home where everybody spoke their mind, everybody was pretty provocative and pretty aggressive, that was sort of the tone set by my own mother. My mother is a very assertive, in fact, aggressive person and her style was violence. So we all sort of learned that growing up. It probably made us fairly articulate. We all have a pretty easy time expressing ourselves, that’s the good side of it, but we’ve had to learn that that kind of communication doesn’t always serve. In fact, it probably almost never serves unless we’re having to protect our child in a rare instance, but there’s just not very many places that aggression serves out in the real adult world.

Then I married into a family where conflict was avoided and nobody had the hard conversations and I had to learn a whole different style of communication in relationship with my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law was a very involved mother. She had really invested herself deeply in raising her seven children and I remember when I had my first couple of children and they were very small and I remember her coming to help me with one of my babies being born, I think the third one, and I remember that she would make a lot of different small comments, not liking the fact that I put my kids to bed really late. I felt like their dad got home from work, that at night was our time to really spend time as a family, it was summer time, they weren’t in school yet, they weren’t old enough and she would make a lot of small comments about how her daughter over here put her kids to bed at 8:30 and this daughter over here put her kids to bed at 9 and she would kind of make positive comments about how much better their family was or that’s how it felt to me.

Finally because, again, I came from this family where we were very direct with each other even if it was hurtful, even if it was harsh, even if it hurt somebody’s feelings I tried to find that middle ground and I asked her on a Saturday morning if she would sit down and have a conversation with me. We ended up talking for about four and a half hours and I said, “Hey, I really feel criticized when you talk about how all the good moms put their kids to bed at 9 PM.” I had to get very specific because I knew if I wasn’t really specific about things that were being said every single day that felt like paper cut to death that I would get, “What? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t criticize you.”

There was another incident that happened really late in my marriage actually and my mother-in-law would come and visit us probably a few times a year and I remember the last three or four times she came to visit within a couple of days she had broken down in tears and told me that she felt like I didn’t really want to spend time with her and I thought, “Gosh, I’ve never spent so much time with someone in my life besides running in to check on my work on my computer for maybe 20 minutes and going to the gym I spent my whole day with her. We went shopping together. We sat and chatted for hours every day.” And here I felt like I was making a big sacrifice and I was really trying to do life her way, which she’s a very conversational person and I tried to sit and talk with her.

I always seemed to cause a meltdown and she would start crying and say, “I don’t think that you really want me here.” Well, the third or fourth time this happened in those very late years in my 20 year marriage I suddenly had a flash of inspiration and I said, “You know what? I think I know what the problem is here.” And after many, many years of patterns when you’re married a long time sometimes there are these patterns and it takes you years to figure out what was going on and then there’s the confronting it and trying to to change the pattern that’s going on. I went to the top of the stairs where my then husband was down in the basement. I don’t know why it was down in the basement. We had an unfinished basement and we had talked about finishing it, but he wasn’t finished in it. He would just go down there and every time his mom came to town he would just disappear and I didn’t know where he was and so somehow it had become my job to spend time with his mom.

The third or fourth time she came to visit and she melted down and was crying and saying, “I don’t think you really want me here, maybe I should go stay with my other daughter.” And I felt so bad and so guilty. I went to the top of the stairs and I said, “Hey honey, can you come upstairs?” He came upstairs and I said, “Would you sit down here at the kitchen table?” And I had him sit at one end of the kitchen table and had her sit down at the other end and I said, “I think we have a problem and I think the problem is your mom is really, really sad and she’s telling me that she feels like I don’t really want her here because I haven’t spent enough time with her. I don’t think I’m the problem. I think that she misses you and I think that for whatever reason in the way you guys communicate with each other it’s not okay to confront each other with that. So if it’s okay with you guys I want to confront it for you and ask you if you would be open to talking to each other about this.”

And she had been listening to me with all these tears welled up in her eyes and I said, “How do you feel about that? How do you feel about what I just said?” And she said, “I think you’re right.” So I let them talk. I walked away and let them talk and they small-talked for about a half an hour. They never did talk about the elephant in the room. It wasn’t their code. It wasn’t how they do things, but I bring this up just because families have a really different communication styles and I’m sure you’ve learned this the hard way like I have, especially married people have had to enter a different family dynamic where the communication style is completely different. In their family everything is fine, everything is fine and we don’t talk about it. In my family we deal with things head on and what I got out of Crucial Conversations is that there is a very narrow middle path and not very many people take it, but what’s exciting is I feel like we can learn it.

So there was my family’s way, there was his family’s way and neither one is what Crucial Conversations discovered that people of influence in all the companies that they studied actually did, and that is how the hard conversation make the person you’re talking to feel truly safe and valued and expressed confidence in and support for or love for the person even though you’re having that hard conversation with them. It’s something that we could all choose to commit to because it’s a majority of people who will resort to silence or violence. Many of us go to one or the other almost exclusively and it’s really unhelpful in our relationships.

Let’s think about whether silence as a communication tactic is a way of pretending that we have clean motives, but actually we don’t and what we’re doing, refusing to take a stand, refusing to have a conversation, refusing to help when our heart calls us to help. Doing nothing can create as much toxic energy in a relationship as any tactic of the violent person does. So let’s just own that, shall we? Let’s own how aggressive silence can be. I’m talking about people who have an issue with you, but they pretend to your face that they’re moving forward with a plan, maybe a plan you have at work, maybe you’re in charge of a project and then they stonewall or they don’t do their part or they sabotage or they talk behind your back criticizing your plan or your leadership or they just won’t answer your email or your text or your phone call.

Again, sometimes we call this passive-aggressive, and if you want to know how destructive this communication pattern is or how people feel about it go post on Facebook. I actually posted very recently a scenario where I said, “Would you prefer this aggressive style or this passive-aggressive style?” And it was really enlightening. It was 20 to 1 preferred aggressive to passive-aggressive. Passive-aggressive may actually seem more socially appropriate, but I posted because I wondered if the way I feel about it is the way everyone does and it turns out they do. Passive-aggressive folks think that they’re getting away with something and very frankly, I think what we have to be clear on is, they’re not. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, hates passive-aggressive, it turns out.

That post on Facebook provoked a private message from someone I will call Sharon. Her husband had been very cold and he had had an emotional affair a year or two before and he had made her feel insecure in the relationship or the situation certainly made her feel insecure. One night he was brushing his teeth and she asked him a really important question, a really vulnerable question about the status of their relationship, but she asked him while he was brushing his teeth and he took a few minutes to brush his teeth and he never answered. She was sad about it and was asking me what I thought and I said, “What if you make it really safe for him? What if you I ask him for a 1 to 10 evaluation. How is our relationship going for you on a scale of 1 to 10? How are you feeling about me and the changes that you wanted for me that we talked about recently? What if you were willing to be vulnerable?”

We all respond positively to that when someone we care about comes to us with an open heart. It opens my heart when someone comes to me with openness and vulnerability and I’m always going to stop for a minute no matter how fast I’m flying and I will respond to open hearted vibrations. Think, “How can I come through the love door?” Leave that love door open by never using words that are designed to hurt, to cut. Think of your words like a laser. Focused frequencies. Remember that lasers can heal and lasers can kill. So, what are your words doing, and use your words for love even if you’re telling your child that you’re going to kick him out if he doesn’t stop smoking weed in your home. There’s a crucial conversation. Even if you’re telling an employee that if he doesn’t clean up his interactions with his coworkers you’re going to have to let him go. That’s a crucial conversation. You can say these things and walk away with that person respecting you and wanting to do better and feeling love and having a stronger relationship, you really can.

I was in a very long relationship that ended 18 months ago and recently we have rekindled that and we’ll see where that goes, but when we were dating every month we agreed to have a chat on the first of the month and on that first of the month we asked, “How’s it going for you? Is this relationship meeting your needs? Why or why not? What could I do to help you be happier?” I’ve heard of a lot of marriages that re-up every year and they have a conversation at the beginning of every year that goes like this, “Do you want to be married again this year?” And that might seem like an uncommitted marriage, but I think it’s the opposite. I think it’s two people remembering and not taking for granted that big commitment they made to each other and renewing that. It doesn’t always have to be renaming vows, it can be having a crucial conversation.

If you walk through a door with a knife or a club or a pillow case to put over their head what will their response be? On the other hand, what if you walk through the door with a smile and with your arms outstretched, with openness, with love. In the workplace with positive regard at least. With a colleague, even if you’re about to threatened to kick your kid out or fire your employee, just using examples of Crucial Conversations, the ones that we all have to have, the ones we dread, because guess what? We all have to have them. We avoid them. The longer we avoid them the more we actually make ourselves sick, and on the flip side, you can bet that other person is getting emotionally if not this ecclesiastic to before that shoe drops. So, have the conversation.

I don’t like to go into a conversation cold. I like to literally schedule in my mind some time to think through a difficult conversation before I have it and that starts with recognizing a crucial conversation, recognizing where you’re at a breaking point in a relationship. I schedule some time to think about something that’s causing stuck energies in my business or in my personal relationships with my children. I literally schedule it for a while I’m out for a run or while I’m driving somewhere for at least 20 minutes. That’s a really good time when my whole brain is available to come up with a solution that allows me to walk through the door with love or positive regard, not a knife or a club or a pillow case.

I’ve found that I can think through a difficult issue and really have some epiphanies about how to handle a conversation, what words to use, how to start with questions, how to listen first if I think about it and sort of plan it for 20 minutes while I’m out driving or taking a shower. It might sound weird to schedule your shower time for thinking through a problem, but I do it all the time and it’s a game changer. If we can be clear and direct and honest, people love that in the digital age where we can hide behind our words and fewer of our words are said face-to-face any more and we don’t always hold ourselves to the standard that anything we say anywhere should be something we would be willing to say to the person’s face, but I think it’s a good standard.

If we can be clear and honest and direct and we can also be kind and loving we can reassure the person we’re talking to that we value them very much, we love them, we have faith in them. We can have powerful deep relationships with people where there is an energy exchange that fills us and fills them and makes us stronger and makes us more, because we aren’t independent, we just aren’t. It’s a popular thing for women to talk about being independent, but we humans have overlapping energy fields with other humans and every time researchers go to study the human organism in community we discover that we are entirely interdependent. We discover that happy people are highly integrated into communities. The Blue Zones that studied the five longest living people on planet earth right now didn’t just discover what they ate. They discovered that every single one of those communities had highly integrated communities. They walked around, they had long conversations with other people, they had meals where they were communal in their meals, they took their time with it.

Independent is a word that has a purpose and women use it to mean, “I have my own income and I don’t depend on a man’s income.” But it’s not accurate that any of us are independent. Human infants in an orphanage deprived of touch and interaction get sick and die, and dependent is a tricky place to live to. Dependence can be extremely unhealthy. You often hear when people are talking about their intimate relationship, “She completes me.” Or they’ll refer to their spouse as, “My other half.” And it always makes me cringe a tiny little bit even though I love love. Do you feel this way too? A little bit uncomfortable with the fact or the idea that we don’t have completeness until someone steps in and fills an empty place in us. In psychotherapy or studies of human behavior in social environments interdependent is what the healthy and happy people are. We have semi-permeable boundaries. We have boundaries. They’re so important, but our boundaries do flex. We aren’t afraid to speak up if someone’s violating our boundaries, but we also realize that there’s a give and take needed in our relationships.

So the major finding of Crucial Conversations that I think is very important as we consider the words and the conversations and the communications we have and their impact on our relationship is it turns out you can have a difficult conversations with people where you’re playing with them, but they are conversations that don’t harm the other person and strengthen the relationship rather than undermine it. Conversations that steer clear of shaming, that steer clear of silence and violence. In fact, how many times have you heard people say that they appreciate your candid feedback? If no one has said this to you maybe work on your candor a little bit. We all want it, but we also fear it because we are, virtually all of us, afraid of failure, afraid of not doing well, afraid of letting someone down, afraid of disapproval or failure.

Those who practice giving hard feedback with love are the ones who win. The ones who win in intimate long term relationships, the ones who win in business, the ones who win in emotional healing, the ones who win in the entire human social environment. Those are the ones that the Crucial Conversations researchers found are the most respected. They are sought after by their peers for advice, for mentoring, for problem solving. A shoulder to cry on is easy to find, but are you more than that? Are you a person who helps others push forward, solve an issue, break down a wall, push through to their own greatness? What if you made a commitment right now towards living in the higher vibrations? What if we clean up our words, clean up the harm we’ve inflicted on someone? Identify the discomfort you have with someone and go make it right. Choose into more precise ways of expressing yourself that take tremendous care for the feelings and fragile heart of the person you’re speaking to. Everyone’s fragile, absolutely everyone.

People say they have thick skin and it’s not true. We all want to feel loved and we all want to feel like we’re enough. So what if we dig deeper to find the right words to fit the situation? The words we feel empathically are what another person needs. Not the words someone wants to hear, the words someone needs. Stuffing things, not verbalizing when we’re feeling wronged or silenced or ignored, stuffing things causes cancer. There’s actual research that women who stuff their negative feelings get breast cancer at higher rates. That personality type, the type who don’t have a voice, who are afraid to speak up, who feel constantly vaguely victimized in many of their relationships because nobody really knows what they’re thinking or what they want, they’re actually more disease prone. That is stuck energy, is my friend. If you’re a stuffer, I might have just made that word up. I’m not sure if it’s in the dictionary. Stuffers say it, but say it with purpose and loving intention and faith that you’ll be received better than you think you will and you’ll be amazed that saying difficult things to people can strengthen your relationships.

When I taught needed to Management Communications 320 at Brigham Young University for many years I taught an entire unit on giving bad news. What I taught my students as they were giving bad news, which all of them would have to do in their professional careers, I taught them to focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t. I taught them, instead of saying something positive and following it with but or however, after you give a compliment or said set up a communication with a positive first I challenge them to eliminate the word but and however from their bad news message as they turned it in as an assignment and some of them really struggled with it, but it’s a great exercise. I said, “When you say something positive and it’s followed by but or however you just negated the positive thing that you said.”

Of course, I taught them the feedback sandwich. Say something positive, make it authentic, don’t make it a bunch of junk and then share the constructive criticism and then reaffirm the relationship. Tell that person why they matter to you, express confidence in them that they can turn that situation around. Try the swearing detox or the negative self-talk detox even if you don’t swear like I do when I double fault. Nobody hears it, but it happens in my head. I literally don’t think the swear words now in my swearing detox lately. Give it a try. See what happens for you. Maybe you’ll start winning too. We could talk about fighting fair in marriage. I know I’m subject hopping here from my university teaching on communications I did for many years to my past as a marriage and family counselor to my own personal life experience, but in marriage counseling fighting does not, it turns out, destroy marriages.

People assume that and it’s wrong the published literature in marriage therapy shows that many very strong marriages, and most stable marriages, report significant conflict. It’s the type of conflict that is the issue, it’s how you fight. The strongest marriages are the ones where even when we disagree we may get very passionate about how we’re feeling, but we put it in I language rather than in you language. No pointing fingers, no condescension, “I feel X when Y happens.” Rather than, “You always do X or you never do Y.” Which are examples of toxic marriage communication patterns. Did you know that the number one predictor of marriage failure is contempt? Some really big studies show that marriages that fail are virtually always preceded by contempt in the relationship, in the way that the partners interact with each other.

One of the most famous marriage and family therapists out there has thin slicing experiment he does and he’s almost always right. He watches a couple for literally just a few minutes and he can predict with great accuracy whether they will eventually get divorce. Contempt shows up in our language as well as in our more subtle energies that other people can sense. If you are thinking and feeling one thing and saying another other people know. You really aren’t hiding as much as you think you are. If you’re perceptive you can tell how your spouse feels about you when you’re out to dinner with her even if she’s not saying a word to you, even if she’s not talking directly to you. Especially you empaths, you pick up on those subtle energies.

I was the founder of a charter high school many years ago and we were hiring a principal and we were interviewing candidates and I will call this candidate Miguel and we all interviewed him. We sat around and asked him questions and he had brought his wife to the interview and I was mostly listening. I was not the one asking the questions, I was just observing, and it wasn’t as this candidate interacted with us, it was a couple of very minor interactions he had with his wife that actually sent cold chills down my spine. We thought that the guy looked really great on paper. He was just finishing a PhD and we didn’t have a very big budget at our charter school that we were just barely opening and he seemed completely fantastic. He had worked at two charter schools before. He was a big fan of charter schools. He looked so great.

As a longtime employer and as a psychotherapist and as a communications professor I’ll tell you, I was watching the energies of this man between him and us, but mostly between him and his wife and I did not want to hire him. I didn’t feel he was right for the job. My intuition told me that he was wrong for the job and that it would be very painful to have him in this position, but no one else perceived it. I was blown away by the energies there, but I didn’t have words for it so I stayed quiet when the man and his wife left and as we, the board, discussed the interview and whether to make him a job offer after Miguel had gone and they were focusing on the words he said and on his qualifications.

Well, not only is this man divorced now, but we had to fire him halfway into his first year. Despite having a contract with him, despite being legally liable for that contract, things were so high conflict they were so bad that we actually had to buy him out of his contract because he was that toxic in the school, he was that intractable, that angry, that divisive. I actually was the last person to go in. I was sent in as a Hail Mary and I went in with Terry Warner’s book for the workplace. Terry Warner is one of my great heroes and I went in with his book as a peace offering and I left very sorrowful because it turned out he had been fired from his last two jobs as well and it was a very difficult time for the school, for the faculty, for the parents and for the students.

Make sure that you listen to the episode on being a highly sensitive person and in tuning in to your intuition to your abilities as an empath or even as an energy healer. I hope you like that episode. In the meantime remember to get your copy of Vibe on pre-order. You can get the video masterclass at and the book comes with the package. It’s 50% off right now. I hope you take advantage of it before the book launches. I’m so excited about it. Thank you so much for listening and for your reading and review on iTunes and we’ll see you next week.

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