The Safe Conversation Process is a structured way of talking that ensures safety. It is a three-step process consisting of: mirroring, validation, and empathy. The mirroring step makes sure you have really listened to and heard your partner before you can speak.
The VALIDATION step takes issues out of the power struggle, which tends to be: I am right and you are wrong. By validating my partner: “That makes sense that is how you see it, or that is what you would say”, it does not mean I necessarily agree with them. Nor does it make them right and therefore I am wrong. It simply affirms my partner is not me and sees things differently.
Remember John Gray’s book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. You could be like a tourist from Mars, checking out what is going on over there on Venus? Or, if you are from Venus, what is happening on Mars? It is much like visiting a different country. Often people do things differently than we might in Canada – but again it doesn’t make them right and therefore we are wrong – it is just different. Your partner is not you, but their thoughts and ideas have equal validity to yours.
The EMPATHY step checks out the feeling, emotional side of a conversation. What are the feelings underneath the issue your partner has shared? After listening to your partner you might conclude they were angry. Your partner, however, might respond that “They weren’t angry, as much as hurt, or sad or disappointed”. You can mirror their statement and ask for more information if you need it, to really understand where they are coming from emotionally.
And then it becomes your turn to respond to the issue your partner has raised.
Your partner will mirror, validate, and empathize with you, and on it goes until you find a solution. The fundamental importance of the Safe Conversation process is that it ensures safety, which as we have already seen, is also a key piece of the combination lock given our reactive lower brain.