Decoding – The Key to Connecting

Jim-Decoding

Decoding is a critical first step to respectfully connecting with a person who is experiencing negative emotions and expressing those emotions in sometimes harmful or self-harming behaviors.  Three critical steps to decoding someone’s behavior are: To observe the behavior, To ask what the person might be feeling, and To acknowledge their feeling. A recent example of decoding I used was with a young man I’d not met before whom I was asked to interview.  I introduced myself and asked him if he would mind if I spoke with him.  He sat in the chair, crossed his arms and had a scowl on his face (not a happy camper). My decoding went like this: 1.  Observe: Tommy, I noticed you have your arms crossed and your jaws clenched, 2.  Ask: Are you angry? He responded with a yes. (If he would have said no, I simply would have asked; What are you feeling?) 3.  Acknowledge: I can see you’re angry. (An empathic response that provides connection) I then asked him what caused him to be angry and he said was angry because he was supposed to be at another activity he was looking forward to. We then went on and had a … Continue reading