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Opening up about abuse: Charlie Houpert case study

A more advanced case of using emotional intelligence for good:

(talking about Tim Ferris discussing his experience with child abuse. Charlie says that Ferris could help far more people if he simply opened up about his story, rather than using his "geek approach" of steps and tools)
Ben: well, can I just say, that's kind of what you just did right, you said "I've had stuff happen to me" (Ben cautiously and tactfully calls him out on doing the same and not having shared his full experienced, thus indirectly coaxing him on sharing more about his own story)
Charlie: (jumps in right away, sub-communicating this is an emotional topic for him) I talked about it
Ben: (kind of what you just did) you said I talked about it on the podcast previously, probably two months ago
Charlie: no, it was like 8 months ago (focusing on the details and dates shows that he doesn't feel comfortable with the main topic, a subconscious drive to avoid it)
Ben: that's what I'm saying (this was unnecessary). So do you want to talk about your experience. I don't wanna put you on the spot
Charlie: have I not? I will, I just don't want to repeat myself (resists sharing, resists admitting it's difficult. If people blame other reasons, it's because they don't yet feel safe)
Ben: you said it was 8 months ago, right? (implying it's not going to repeat himself. Leaves unaddressed the real issue: the difficulty of sharing and the feeling of safety)
Charlie: I thought we talked about it at length
(then starts sharing about his abuse)

Mad respect to Charlie.

An emotionally aware person might recognize Charlie's resistance.

Ben didn't put much pressure, which was great.

I think an even more "hands off" approach would have been good.

what might have been helpful was to surface the difficulty clearly.
Leaving it unaddressed can make people feel bad for just resisting. Plus, the (not) good old face-saving and male thing that it's not cool to feel bad about whatever bad happened to us.

That's what made Charlie put up fake reasons for not wanting to share.

And Ben could have helped to address that.

For example instead of saying "I don't wanna put you on the spot", he might have said: "I know it's difficult man, you're safe with me, but there is a camera here and up to you if you want to say more, or any time in the future. Wholly up to you".

Then let Charlie decide if he was ready to share.

If something like this happens in person and you want to help someone open up, you gotta treat it like you'd treat a scared cat.
No pressure, no chasing, no forcing.
Very muffled voice, no staring, no jerking movements. Sit around, let the cat come close, extend a hand for them to sniff it out.

Same for people: no pressure, no "logical reasons" why they need to do anything, let them free to make up excuses, let them know there is no judgment on your side, let them know you understand it's difficult.
And let them know that whenever they want, there is a non-judgmental person ready to welcome their sharing, and ready to accept them no matter how hard they may break down, and no matter what they share.

Matthew Whitewood and Growfast have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodGrowfast
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I am loving these series of posts which previously had examples of handling social blunders using emotional intelligence.

It does seem like this podcast has a lot of opportunities to discuss frame control on an advanced level.

I am thinking of having a separate thread which has links to all these posts.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
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