I forget how I myself learned the phrase. I imagine it was in one of my training sessions, when senior therapists sit with newer therapists to discuss cases and pass along knowledge. This particular phrase stuck with me as particularly useful.
My husband and I use it pretty much on-the-daily to express our interest in one another and to connect.
Are you ready? It’s: “Tell me more.”
Here’s a list of what I think is awesome about this phrase:
- It is completely and totally open-ended. It prompts the other to scan his/her heart and mind for whatever seems most important at that moment.
- It conveys interest and attention.
- It’s useful in almost any situation. Loved one says they had awful day at work? You can say “tell me more” with a look of loving concern. Loved one says they rocked it at a meeting? You can say “tell me more!” with a big smile on your face.
- Not sure how to respond? Afraid you’re wearing the deer-in-the-headlights look? Ask them to tell you more!
- Sitting at dinner in silence, curious about your loved one’s day/life/thoughts/feelings, but not sure what to ask about? We use “tell me more” for that, too!
Probably what I think is most useful about this phrase, though, shows up when one partner is feeling upset/down/stressed. The beauty is that it circumvents the premature reassurance/advice tactics that many of us are drawn to. It invites exploration, and allows the speaker to really express what it is that they’re going through. Many females, in particular, find that a caring and compassionate other, saying or conveying “tell me more,” is all they need to continue to cope with a challenging situation.
Because many men (and plenty of women) default to “fix-it mode” and tend to feel pressured by a loved-one’s distress, this phrase can be particularly useful for them. So, guys, give this magical phrase a try the next time your loved one is upset. Make sure your posture and facial expression indicates you’re being sincere. I imagine you’ll be surprised at how seen and loved your partner feels. And you may feel a lot less pressure during the next emotional conversation, knowing you can simply say, “tell me more.”