April 25, 2010

Talk to Me Like I'm Someone You Love by Nancy Dreyfus

I can see how upset you are, and I feel terrible.

This is a small book but a powerful tool to utilize. More than a book, it is a relationship problem-solver that uses the simple but interesting method of conversational flash cards to help the user switch from arguing to problem-solving. Some of the cards help you shift gears, while others help you set limits, get clarification, and even apologize when you alone can't find the right words.

Now, you may be thinking, 'she wants me to hold up a flash card in the middle of an argument?' Yes, in a nutshell. Dreyfus, a psychotherapist by trade, says that just the simple switch in format can help break the tension and re-focus energies, while reading a message may get through to your partner in a way that your saying the same thing could not. Tone of voice sometimes carries meaning that you have no intention of giving. She actually came up with the idea while counseling her own clients in couples therapy.

Of course, Dreyfus discusses in the introduction just how to use these cards in the most meaningful way for your situation and your particular relationship. Some cards may not be for you, but use the ones that are. There are 101 cards included, with a short explanation of why this message and when to use the message and even examples of clients she has known that have used this card and the result. There is even room included in the back of the book to create your own message flash cards if you feel inspired.

Here are a few examples of the messages on the cards. But I will let you read Dreyfus' book to find out the rest and to discover just how to use the cards to the benefit of your relationship (even if it seems silly when you start) and why the cards are grouped the way they are in the book. I was thinking while I was reading it how great it would be for people with ADHD, as we often forget exactly what we want to say in conversations, especially disagreements, and how it could be a good tool to help us re-focus and not get lost on tangents.

1. This feels awful. Can we start again and really listen to each other?
3. I wish you could hear this as me saying "yes" to myself--not "no" to you..

20. Talk to me like I'm someone you love.
23. What you are saying is worth listening to, but I am so totally flooded, I can't take in one more thing. I wish I could, but I can't.

35. I'm afraid that if I say I'm sorry, you'll make everything all my fault.
37. I think I'm supposed to know how to do this, but honestly, I have no idea.

40. I can see that my anger has been destructive and that I've really hurt you.
46. I'm probably sounding like a parent right now, and I can appreciate that it's a turnoff.

59. When you are so intense, it's hard to take in what might be valid about what you are saying.
61. Your behavior embarrassed me. I'm trying to tell you, not to make you feel bad, but so I can feel close to you again.

65. When you say things like that, it sounds like you are thinking of ending our relationship. Is that what you really mean?
71. It would mean a lot to me if you could just repeat back to me what you think I'm trying to get across.

78. Even though I've been arguing my position like a crazy person, I now see where your point of view makes sense.
82. I'm sorry that I acted as if there was only my reality.

86. I am not _______ who hurt you in the past. I am ________ who loves you now.
92. I love you. I hate fighting. Can't we just hug?

94. I can see how upset you are, and I feel terrible.
100. I want to hug you and I'm not sure I am welcome. May I come closer?

RATING: 4.5 Stars
BOOK #: 20
CHALLENGES: ARC Challenge, 100+ Books in 2010, A to Z Challenge
PUBLISHER: Tarcher/Penguin (c) 2009
GENRES: Nonfiction, Self-Help, Relationships
FORMAT/PAGES: Spiral-Bound/Paperback/282
HEY, FCC!: I received this book from Lisa Roe of Online Publicist. I did not receive any compensation for this review. It is my honest opinion of the book.


  1. I totally had this idea years ago! I even came up with a name for it called "flash card moments." But I didn't carry it out because I thought it sounded weird. :P

  2. This sounds like a TOTALLY great idea to me! And even if you didn't show them to the other person, just to review them yourself would be worthwhile. Thanks for the notice of this!

  3. Oh .. I could totally see how useful this might be. Very useful. Mr. Jenners and I sometimes back ourselves into a corner when we fight and I could see this as being a very good way to help us get out to a better place to really talk. Thank you!

  4. I can see doing the reframing but I am sceptical of the whole flashcard thing. I can guarantee that if someone flashed a card at me while we were arguing that that I would be absolutely incensed. Of course therapy has never managed to work for me either so maybe I'm just so outside the norm that this reaction isn't usual. :-)

  5. Hubs & I had a horrible fight last week...I can tell from your review this would have helped.

  6. Hm. I am all for reframing conflict and talking nicely during arguments, but I am not wild about some of these examples. "Talk to me like I'm someone you love" sounds - well, a bit manipulative. Not so much setting limits as casting aspersions. But some of these other things are definitely good.

  7. I've heard about this one on a few other blogs. I can imagine these techniques are pretty powerful when they are used correctly. It is amazing how a few simple adjustments in the way people communicate with each other can make such a difference!


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