Welcome back to Part II of The Problem With Flapping! In Part I of this two-part post, we discussed the concept of flapping, using the image of opposing sock puppets, one sock puppet desperately trying to engage the other one in a flapping battle. Flapping is a way that someone can trigger you with their words or actions, resulting in your negative feelings…and a possible desire to flap back! If you didn’t have an opportunity to check out Part I of this post…or if you would like a wee bit of a refresher, just click HERE to take a sneak peek at The Problem With Flapping (Part I). Thanks!
OK, we’ve laid the basic foundation of flapping. Flapping in itself can be an occasional occurrence or an habitual one. It can be a minor frustration or a source of significant distress. In any case, flapping represents dysfunctional communication and can serve to be a damager or destroyer of relationships. One of the most difficult aspects of flapping is deciding how to deal with it. There are many ways that people choose to handle these situations. My hope is that your choice will be positive and well-intentioned; which interestingly, may directly contradict the intentions of your “flapper.” Below are some positive responses to consider, which I’ve titled “8 Flapping Fixes.” Perhaps one (or more) may resonate with you as we continue to ponder The Problem With Flapping…
F – Forgiving. I have to admit, this is a BIG concept to consider. When we engage in a conversation with someone who is trying to trigger us, probably the last thing that we would want to think about would be to forgive him (or her). Forgiveness, however, has the unique quality that it is an active choice we make so that we no longer allow the other person’s negativity to effect us. From a faith-based perspective, it has been said that when we forgive someone we take them off our hook and put them on God’s hook. We no longer have to hold onto our hurtful feelings. (Please understand, though, forgiving does not imply that someone can continuously hurt you emotionally. This is not flapping. This may be abuse. If you ever find yourself in that type of situation or have any questions or concerns, please seek support and guidance from a trusted loved one or a professional).
- L – Listening. Have you ever been involved in a conversation with someone where you both are sharing deep feelings about yourselves, about life, about your hopes and dreams, and then WHAM, suddenly the conversation takes a left turn out of no where and suddenly the FLAPPING begins? Yep. My hand is raised too. And, you ask yourself, “What just happened?” Well, somewhere between the well-intentioned words a snafu occurred. A communication glitch. And suddenly the chasm between the two of you is seemingly growing wider and wider as you continue to FLAP. Many times, in these situations, the problem is not what we say but what we hear. Talking is not the problem. A lack of listening may be the culprit. If this type of situation happens, you may want to try the communication technique called “clarification.” As you talk with someone, and all of a sudden the tone of the conversation seems to change…or you get a troubling feeling in your “gut,” take a moment to clarify. Let the other person know that you weren’t sure you understood what they meant by what they said. This gives that person the opportunity to expand on their thoughts and ideas…and it gives you the opportunity to reconsider your response. Listening is a beautiful alternative to assuming…and misunderstanding!
- A – Asserting. Flapping may necessitate assertiveness…on your part. It is important to determine whether you should confront your flapper. And, if it is appropriate, then assertiveness may be the way to get the job done. There are many models of communication to consider; I prefer the three prong explanation of communication: non-assertive, assertive, and aggressive. For the purpose of this post we’ll focus on the assertive prong. The basic component of assertive communication is respect. Typically, “I messages” are used to communicate meaning. “I want,” “I need,” “I feel,” “I believe,” etc. are ways to speak your truth in a respectful yet powerful way. The purpose of assertive communication is to communicate, not to hint (as seen in non-assertive communication) and not to humiliate or dominate (as seen in aggressive communication, aka “flapping”). Someone speaking assertively should not feel guilty about their words after they have been spoken. So, if you decide to be assertive with your “flapper,” speak your truth, be respectful, and do not allow yourself to become negatively engaged. For more information on these communication styles you may want to read the blog post Welcome to Communication 101.
- P – Practicing. Whatever strategy (or strategies) you choose to deal with flappers and flapping situations, remember that practice is important. Communication is important. Dealing with conflict and confrontation is not fun, but having tools to use (sometimes at a moment’s notice) are invaluable. Practice does not make you perfect, but it does make you better. Finding ways to communicate effectively is difficult, but not impossible. Imagine that you have a tool belt stuffed full of (coping) tools that you’ve used to deal with even the toughest flapping scenarios. You’ve learned how to use these tools with much practice and effort. The result? Less stress, less frustration, and the opportunity for improved relationships. So, fill that tool belt…and start practicing!
- P – Praying. Sometimes we get stuck. We feel trapped. We’re not certain how to respond to flapping. Perhaps we feel triggered and our basic instinct is to fight back; an automatic response. We may be so upset or anxious we can’t think straight. We need to calm down. We need to get a handle on the situation. We need help. Sometimes we need His help. Prayer is a direct line to God, to the ultimate source of knowledge and goodness. It’s OK to pray, to talk to God. He knows your heart and mind. He understands your emotions and feelings. Go to Him. Seek His wisdom. He is there, longing to hear from us. From Scripture, Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) states: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
- I – Intuiting. Intuiting is the process by which we recognize (flapping) triggers and discerning how to respond to them. Intuiting relies on both our feelings and the use of our wise mind. Sometimes this process happens quickly and sometimes more slowly. When involved in flapping situations, some considerations include who is flapping, what is the topic of the conflict, and why this situation is a hot topic, either for you or for your flapper. If you are more familiar with the person who is flapping, you may have more insight into them and the situation. Therefore, you may decide to respond in a certain way, unlike other situations where the variables are quite different. If your “flapper” is a stranger, perhaps, you may just try to overlook their comments or actions. If your “flapper” is a loved one, you may want to try to clarify the communication to resolve the situation. If your “flapper” is habitual in his (or her) flapping, you may need to respond in yet another way. In any case, your efforts to positively deal with flapping situations will most likely be enhanced if you pay heed to your true feelings and use your wise mind. Intuition and discernment go hand in hand. The Bible even speaks to this important concept: “Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good” – Job 34:4 (NIV).
- N – Negotiating. In certain cases, flapping can lead to resolution. Through positive communication techniques, such as listening, asserting, and clarification (to name a few) it is possible that flapping can be effectively handled. The keys here are to elicit the cooperation of your “flapper” and to de-escalate any mounting negative feelings or actions. Cooperation comes through understanding and flexibility, relying on a foundation of mutual respect. This may be a lengthy process, but well worth it…particularly if your flappers are loved ones. Healthy relationships are like diamonds. Sometimes they begin as what appear to be old, ordinary rocks beneath the earth’s surface. But sometimes the friction and positive (intentional) rubbing together of the two can create something beautiful and worth caring for. Are you ready to negotiate with your diamond in the rough?
- G – Guiding. Have you ever wondered why the flappers in your life are so negative, so intimidating, so bent on controlling others or having their way? In my experience, I have found that flappers are usually very sad and anxious people. People who perhaps have to criticize others in order for them to feel
goodbetter about themselves. People who are lonely. People who really don’t know how to relate to others, but who desperately want to relate to others. To belong. To be happy. Unfortunately, they sure have a difficult time conveying their true selves, don’t they? Think on this for a moment. If you felt like this, how would you want other people to react to you? Sure, on the outside, they may be trying to get you angry, to try to get you to flap back. But, if you do flap back, what does that really convey to them? Perhaps it reinforces that they are alone, that no one wants to be in a relationship with them, that they should indeed be rejected by others. Now, consider this. What if, instead of flapping back, you reached out your hand (figuratively, I mean) and invited them to be your friend, invited them to be in a relationship with you, embraced them rather than reject them? That would be a novel concept, but perhaps just what that person really needed (and in their heart of hearts, desired). That, my friend, would be guiding with a positive, intentional purpose. And that may be the best gift they may have ever received. So, consider leading the way. Your footsteps may lead that person to a new path!
Well, there it is, my friends! The 8 Flapping Fixes…a bit long in length, but my hope is that it was worth the read. Before I close, let me share a free printable with you that outlines those flapping fixes. Just click RIGHT HERE to view (and print) this free printable! Here’s to working towards a flap-free life! Peace to you.