- Diagnosis: including evaluations, analysis, criticisms, comparisons, projections, labels, moralistic judgements (ideas of rightness/wrongness, goodness/badness, diligence/laziness, appropriateness/inappropriateness, etc). In using communications similar to the above, we are using static language to diagnose who we think people are instead of communicating what is important to us. Such language increases the likelihood of defensiveness, argument or returned criticism and lessens the likelihood of understanding and connection.
- Denial of Responsibility: including words like “should”, “ought” “must” “can’t” “have to”, attributing the choices we make to “company policy” or “superiors orders”, or attributing the cause of our feelings to other people or extrinsic situations (“You make me feel frustrated!”).
- Deserve-orientated language: This language or belief system includes ideas of punishment and reward as motivators and often implies that either reprimand or praise is deserved.
- Demands: When we demand something of another person, that person may agree. However, compliance may often evolve from fear or worry that the other will be disliked, blamed or punished if s/he does not agree, and may therefore result in depression or anger. If the other person chooses not to succumb to our demand, we may experience rebellion and non-compliance to future requests.
- Discounting: Any use of language which denies an individual’s experience or the ways
individuals are affected by systems. Discounting may include negating the person’s experience, invalidating by denying differences, or by framing reality at only the individual level without acknowledging the systemic dimension. Or, it may involve seeing a person only as a representative of a category of people.
A. Find one example of a way in which you have resorted to any one of the 5 D’s.
B. Offer yourself empathy for your feelings and needs that were triggered in that moment. Go slow here, noticing your thoughts, feelings, and needs, and if any needs underlie those, at the root of the matter.
C. Try a do-over. From a place of self-empathy, how else might you have responded to the trigger? What might it look or sound like? How does it feel when you speak it? How do you imagine it would land for the other?