Kristen Bell Is "Memorizing" These Tips for Healthy Communication
She shared an Instagram post from research professor Brené Brown, who offered advice on how to choose compassion over conflict in difficult conversations.
While some celebrities get caught up in feuds, Kristen Bell is focused on learning how to transform conflict into compassion.
Earlier this week, The Veronica Mars actress shared an Instagram post from research professor Brené Brown about "rumble language," which refers to ice-breakers and conversation-starters that can shift an uncomfortable discussion from a place of animosity to curiosity. The post includes tips that Bell said she plans on memorizing ASAP and, TBH, you'll probably find them really helpful too. (Related: Kristen Bell Tells Us What It's Really Like to Live with Depression and Anxiety)
In a recent blog post, Brown—whose work explores courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy—redefined the word "rumble" as something more positive and less West Side Story. "A rumble is a discussion, conversation, or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability, to stay curious and generous, to stick with the messy middle of problem identification and solving, to take a break and circle back when necessary, to be fearless in owning our parts, and, as psychologist Harriet Lerner teaches, to listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard," she explained.
In other words, a "rumble" isn't always a messy brawl, and it doesn't necessarily need to be approached or internalized as an attack. Rather, a rumble is an opportunity to learn from someone else and open your mind and heart to understanding another point of view, even if you don't necessarily agree with it.
A rumble, by Brown's definition, is an opportunity to educate and be educated. This starts with understanding that fear and courage are not mutually exclusive; in times of fear, always choose courage, she advised. (Related: 9 Fears to Let Go of Today)
"When we're pulled between our fear and our call to courage, we need shared language, skills, tools, and daily practices that can support us through the rumble," Brown wrote. "Remember, it's not fear that gets in the way of courage – it's armor. It's the way we self-protect, shut down, and start posturing when we're in fear."
Brown suggested "rumbling" with carefully selected words and phrases, like "I'm curious about," "walk me through this," "tell me more," or "tell me why this doesn't fit/work for you."
By approaching a conversation in this way, with curiosity rather than animosity, you set the tone for everyone involved, says Vinay Saranga, M.D., psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry.
"When the person you are speaking to sees your aggressive tone and body language, it's already making them less receptive to what you have to say because it sends a message that you have already drawn your own conclusions without their input," Saranga tells Shape. As a result, the other person is less likely to listen to what you have to say because they're too busy preparing to defend themselves. By using rumble language, the person you're talking to is "more likely to work with you than against you," Saranga adds.
Another example of a rumble phrase is: "We are both part of the problem and part of the solution," says Michael Alcee, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist based in Tarrytown, New York. (Related: 8 Common Communication Problems In Relationships)
"[The phrase] 'if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem' is a polarizing and subtly dismissive stance, and does not trust the process of not knowing and finding together. It takes great empathy, patience, and love to make something three-dimensional and new in these kinds of conversations," Alcee tells Shape.
Rumble language can start a conversation, but it can also end a discussion that may have started aggressively on a lighter, more positive note. By taking a pause, reworking the conversation with the rumble approach, and allowing yourself to explore the subject matter from different angles, you might be surprised to find that both you and the person you're speaking to can learn from one another.
"Curiosity models a level of respect and equality for the person you potentially disagree with and keeps open the possibility to learn and make something new together," Alcee tells Shape. "It does so by witnessing first, and responding second." (Related: 3 Breathing Exercises for Dealing with Stress)
Kudos to Kristen for bringing these tips to our attention. So, who's ready to rumble?