Become a More Powerful Communicator

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I’m fascinated by the ways we can resolve conflict faster, navigate conversations with more elegance, and go from rupture to repair with less disruption. But how do we do all that? Behavioral flexibility. (Ability to do the splits not required).

Tune in to hear:

💋🎙 Why you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room (and what to strive for instead) 

💋🎙 Why behavioral flexibility is a superpower and how to cultivate it

💋🎙 3 tips to become a better communicator immediately

You’ll walk away a more empowered communicator. 

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Alyssa Patmos 0:04

This is Make It Mentionable. I’m Alyssa Patmos and this is the show about being human in a world that encourages us to be robots. I invite you to join me as we journey through the mess, the magic and the mania in between. Because what we can talk about, we can manage. This honest conversation extravaganza includes free flowing conversations and high doses of vulnerability to remind you that you aren’t alone. No topic is off limits, and episodes are designed to leave you smarter, aka more self aware than when you came. I am so glad you’re here.

Hello, Hello. And welcome back to another episode of Make It Mentionable. I’m your host, Alyssa Patmos. And this week, I want to talk about how do you be the person who’s most powerful in a conversation? How do you be the person who you know just seems to effortlessly be able to navigate any conversation no matter the topic, no matter if there’s conflict. And it all comes down to flexibility, but not the kind where you’re like trying to do the splits. My brother who was five years younger than me can totally do the splits on both legs, which is insane to me, I can definitely not do them anymore. But I do strive to be flexible. In other ways, I might not be doing this blitz in front of the TV every night. But I am I do strive to be behaviorally flexible, because that is the way that you can hold the most power in a conversation that is the way that you can elegantly navigate calmer stations, with less conflict, more clarity, more ease. And so what is behavioral flexibility, and it’s it’s, it’s the ability to be nimble, it’s the ability to adapt to what’s going on at any moment, in the conversation in the communication, it’s the ability to, to pause and reconsider other other options or ways of being in that moment. Because you know, a lot of times a conflict will arise. Maybe you’re arguing with your partner about who knows what. And, and, you know, you know, those moments where you just get locked in and it’s like, I can kind of see myself reacting, I know I’m reacting. But this is the path we’re on. And it can be really difficult to change, and to pivot from defensiveness to compassion in the moment unless you’ve taken some time to cool off. And in those moments, we get very behaviorally rigid, like weird, we’re sticking on the defensive track. And that isn’t helpful that does not help lead to repair. in conflict, no matter if the relationship is with someone you love. Or you know, a friend, if it’s someone you’re dating someone at work. So behavioral flexibility becomes incredibly important for navigating conversations with greater ease. And, and it allows us to create more meaning because ultimately, the reason we’re in conversation to begin with, is to create meaning with another person, the whole communication process is us having this complex inner worlds, where we have our own beliefs, stories, thoughts, conditioning that we’ve grown up with, we have all of that going on plus our past experiences. And then another person has their past experiences that have led them to understand the world in an entirely different way. But a lot of times we forget that we think that people think exactly like us. But if they haven’t had the same experiences as us the way that they’ve created meaning the way that they’ve shaped their perception of the world, it just can’t be the same. And so to think that they’re thinking the same as us in any given situation, is just not reality. And so the way we make meaning is being able to translate our inner world and what’s going on for us into the outer world and we create meanings through conversation and connection and communication with another person doing the same thing. And so huge piece of the communication process is the ability to be behaviorally flexible, to be able to be nimble to move through emotions quicker to recognize wait when What’s going on for the other person? And how is what is that bringing

to this conversation right now or to this conflict right now. And so there are three things that you can do to start increasing your behavioral flexibility right away. So the first one is around increasing self awareness. But specifically, we want to increase our emotional awareness. So you know, a lot of times, we end up in conflict, because something triggers us based on something that has happened in the past, you know, maybe it’s, it’s something your boss is saying is reminding you of your dad, which is grossing you out. And so you, you are getting triggered. And you don’t even totally recognize it in the moment, but you start to feel like the familiar sensations, maybe you feel like a kid for some reason. Other times, you know, we just have certain words like there are certain words that that trigger me differently than they trigger, Jeff, like, for me, I don’t really like the word fine. It’s not completely clear to me what that means. I don’t love it, I would, if you’re gonna say fine, like I don’t understand, I don’t always understand based on past experiences. What what that means is a good is a bad word that Jeff hates, is is blindsided. And for me, that doesn’t mean, that doesn’t mean anything. I don’t have a strong association with it. But he has a very strong association with it. And so if I were to use that word in a conversation, it would trigger him, but I, I have no connection to it. And so and so then whose responsibility is it? Is my responsibility to take care of that? Or how does this How does this situation change? Yes, I can be aware that that holds weight for him. But also, were responsible for recognizing what our emotional triggers are what sets us off, because we’re the only people that can control that we’re the only people who who can know that. And so being able to be behaviorally flexible, involves knowing what your emotional reactions are, and getting more in tune with them being able to recognize them with greater ease. If you know there is a type of person who when they walk in the room, it just makes you feel like you’re seven years old, again, because of something that happened with a friend. That’s that’s important to be aware of. Because in that situation, then your behavioral flexibility is going to go down and toilet. And less you’re aware of the trigger and can move more nimbly throughout it. Because the second thing then, is, is so first we can increase our self awareness, we can increase our emotional awareness, so that when we are on a path in a conversation, and we start to feel those familiar twinges, we can pause. So the second thing we can do to increase our behavioral flexibility is get comfortable with the power of the pause.

Normally, we’re operating on gut reaction, we’re just operating in reactionary land, going along with whatever happens. And we have these very quick impulses, like we process quickly. But our first reaction is not always how we actually want to respond. Our first reaction is not usually the most useful one, nor is it usually the thing that will allow us to get to repair in a conversation or to handle it elegantly. And so instead, what we can do is we can get really good at pausing, just taking a second to check in with ourselves and being like, Okay, wait, how do I actually want to respond right now? Because I’m feeling this reaction coming up? And is that actually what I want to express? Where is this coming from? Is it coming from something in my past and my feeling something familiar? Do I not feel safe? Am I feeling like something is at risk? And then we can take a pause and respond after we take that pause? We can respond differently, we can we can choose to be more vulnerable. Instead of defensive, we can choose to ask a clarifying question instead of making an assumption. Which really brings me to the third thing you can start doing immediately to increase your behavioral flexibility, which is to get curious, because curiosity leads to connection in a way that judgment Never will you Curiosity is a superpower. And so if you can get curious, instead of making assumptions and judgments, you’re instantly increasing your behavioral flexibility. Because we’re so used to people spewing advice telling us what to do. People just making assumptions about things that we’re doing. Again, like recognizing patterns makes our life easier, it is good for us in some ways. But when it comes to connection and meaning making, and, and translating our inner world, and trying to get our message across in a way that the other person understands, curiosity becomes a superpower. And so, if you increase your ability to ask questions, you can you can immediately start to defuse situations and become more behaviorally flexible. It’s, it’s like, if someone is, you know, let’s say you notice your partner, and they’re like really short, for some reason. We can say, Oh, my God, you’re grumpy today, or making that assumption about their behavioral state. What ever felt good for someone to call you grumpy? Like pretty much never, pretty much never, nobody wants to be called grumpy or irritable. But we could ask you a question instead. Maybe we pair it with an observation. It’s like, Hey, I noticed that you don’t really see him yourself today, like, what’s going on for you? Or I’m noticing that I noticed you said you didn’t sleep well, last night? Like, is that leading you to feeling off today? Anytime we can ask a question, instead of making an assumption, we’re doing two things. One, we’re inviting the other person into the reflection process. So if they truly do have something going on, it also requires them to reflect. And that increases their behavioral flexibility as well, because that’s increasing their self awareness. The second thing it does, is it invites conversation, instead of just making an assumption or making a judgement. And when we can get curious, we’re then leaning towards a lens of understanding rather than just putting our perception of the situation on the situation. We’re sorry, let me rephrase that we’re when we can get curious. We’re we’re creating a space for for both people in the conversation to have relevant life experiences come to the table, and not just putting our lens of perception on top of it and saying, like, this is the end all be all like this is clearly how it is. We’re interested in how someone else views the world. And that makes people feel seen, heard, and ultimately loved, which is what we all want. We all want to feel seen, heard and loved. And yet, so many things we do in daily conversations, because we’re not taught this stuff. If we if we were taught this, like, if you were taught as props to your parents, who were some communication ninjas, most of us are not taught this, we have to learn it through trial and error and pain, and painful breakups and through relationships and having people be mirrors for us. We’re not taught, we’re not taught this in school. And so and so along the way we have, we have to learn and and you know, ultimately, we all want to be seen, heard and loved. And we can do that for ourselves. But when we’re behaviorally flexible, we can also do that more for other people, because people are so used to just hearing advice being told what they should do. I mean, we don’t even want to get me started on the sheds, because the sheds are often associated with shame, which is the opposite of feeling seen, heard and loved. And so when you can increase your behavioral flexibility, you not only hold more power in the conversation, you also

become more compassionate, you also open the door for more connection and deeper intimacy. And in doing that, relationships start to open up an entirely new ways. So yes, when you are behaviorally flexible, it’s more than likely, you become a more powerful person in the room. You absolutely do not have to be the smartest person in the room with the person with the most money person who is who is the best at at any given thing except for behavioral flexibility. When you can increase your behavioral flexibility conversations get more elegant. You can handle conflict with greater ease and getting to that point where you’re able to repair after some rupture has happened, become something that is, is much, much easier to do. So if you want to start practicing behavioral flexibility, immediately increase your self awareness. So that looks like becoming aware of things that trigger you or things that, you know, just kind of poke you the wrong way when people say it, or maybe it’s an archetype of a person that just like, why does that hold so much emotional weight for you? Where does it come from? You can get curious about yourself to increase your self awareness. And you know, just just recognize, okay, I have noticed lately that I’m getting into conflict around what situations like what are some situations that have led to conflict pretty recently? And what about them feels familiar? Where’s it coming from? In the past? These are some questions that can help to help you understand and be more aware of your emotions. And then, to increase your behavioral flexibility and conversation, the second thing you can do is get curious, instead of making assumptions. Again, curiosity leads to connection, no, a judgment never will. So get curious, get curious, get curious, ask questions, learn how to ask better questions, how? One thing that I did is I, I knew that there were some situations where I wanted to be more behaviorally flexible, I wanted to be able to be more nimble. And so I just started making a list of questions I could ask. And I would read through them routinely and just kept a note in my phone, I would read through them routinely, when I felt heard and seen by a good question that someone else asked, I would make a note of it. And then it just became embodied. And now it’s much easier to to ask great questions. I love the whole have a question. So get curious, instead of making assumptions. That’s tip number two, for increasing behavioral flexibility. And then the third one is, take a pause, the power of the pause cannot be understated, cannot be overstated. That’s what I meant the power of the pause cannot be overstated. Because so often we’re going around and we’re just reacting, but reactionary land, we can end up getting trapped there. And it doesn’t always have our best interests at heart. So when we can take a pause, and take a step back and look at the situation for a second and be like, Wait, how do I actually want to respond? Check in with your emotions, where are they coming from? How are you feeling? What is that leading you to want to do? And is that the choice that you actually want to make. And when you do that, when you can increase your emotional awareness, explore your emotions, get curious about them, and get curious about another person’s world. And then take the response of pause to respond instead of react. You have already worked to increase your behavioral flexibility, which means you’re going to be able to navigate conversations with much more elegance and to end to navigate conflict with much more compassion. And that is how we can start to go from rupture to repair. It’s how we can be more empowered in conversations not even about unnecessarily holding the most power, but about being truly empowered in a conversation. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I will catch you next week.

You’ve just finished listening to another episode of Make It Mentionable with me, your host, Alyssa Patmos. If you’re looking for more in between episodes, then sign up for The Peel. It’s my free newsletter that gives tips for how to navigate whatever life dishes and it’s also the place where I share the juiciest of stories. To check it out, head on over to Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you next time.

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