Communication 101 for daughters and mothers – #1 Be Response-able

By Val Boyko • May 24th, 2011

angry woman breaking pencilDo you recall the Brain Johnson video clip about response-ability? Being response-able is when we are able  to choose an empowered response in the space between the stimulus and our knee jerk reaction. In other words, when our buttons get pushed, being mindful and choosing how to respond.

This is no easy task, especially when we have had years of conditioned reactions and emotions running high between mothers and daughters!

In order to choose how we respond we have to be present. This means not thinking about the triggers from past experience or anticipating guilt trips in the future!

Be Present

This weekend gave me the chance to experience a new kind of awareness about being present. I broke a tooth over dinner on Saturday night.  It wasn’t so much that it caused me pain, but just enough so that I have to be very careful about how I ate and drank. I had to be aware of how much I put in my mouth, how hard my food was, remembering to chew on one side only, keeping the tooth clean, and avoiding things that were too hot or too cold. You get the picture.

This is a great example of being very present. My attention was heightened to everything that was happening in the moment. I was ready to respond because I was observing my thoughts and behavior.

Be Response-able

Becoming an observer of how we communicate with our mother or daughter is a lot like this!  Here are the steps you can take to become more response-able:

  1. Observe yourself. From now on start to become aware of what happens in your conversations. Observe yourself and the other person. What is the other person saying or doing that upsets you? Try not to judge, simply observe what’s happening. When a button gets pushed, notice what comes up for you. What happens in your body? What thoughts come into your head? What do you want to do but don’t? What do you find yourself doing instead?
  2. Take a deep breath. This will slow you down and give your brain the oxygen it needs to come up with an empowered response.
  3. Respond. Here are some examples of empowered responses to start practicing with:

“I need some time before I can answer you.”

“I understand, however, this works for me.”

“I hear you, however,  I have a different point of view.”

“We are both adult women, so let’s agree to disagree.”

Think of this as an experiment to try a new approach with your mother or daughter. It takes time to undo old habits, so be gentle with yourself.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and rebuilding mother daughter relationships sometimes takes as long….

Let me know how this first step goes for you!




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  • COMMUNICATION QUIZ - Can You Make These Statements?

    Ask yourself if you make any of the following 15 statements. Find out if you are expressing yourself fully and are communicating with openness and presence.
    • SCORING The highest possible score is 30, and the lowest is zero. The higher the score, the higher your likelihood of having success in all your relationships. 0-9: You probably find yourself frustrated in relationships (especially with your mother) more often than you would like. 10-15: You have a high aptitude for relating and are open to learning 16-24: You have good relationship skills. How can you apply them more to your mother relationship? 25-30: Congratulations! Your capacity for present-centered relating is at a very high level.
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