My MLCers keeps saying ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ to me. What does that mean—isn’t that what I’m supposed to be saying to him?
There are a few reasons someone might say this.
Your MLCer could be reading this site and repeating the advice back to you
This has happened before. So what is their motivation? Some MLCers do this to taunt their LBS.
When your MLCers says the validation, are they saying it as though they are trying to tease you and incite you to emotions? Basically, does it seem that they are trying to be mean?
Maybe they are trying to use your pop-psychology against to prove it doesn’t work. In this case it could still be a taunt, but they may try and sound genuine to fool you.
Maybe having read it here, they think it sounds like a good idea and have added it to their own toolbox.
It’s a well-known phrase and tactic
Maybe your MLCer has been reading or receiving advice about validating you. There’s nothing wrong with that. The phrase has become known and they may be genuinely letting you know they accept your feelings and the differences in your feelings—though often MLCers are not willing to even consider your feelings, so that is rare or part of cycling; MLCer do have moments of clarity and empathy. Or they are saying it to be dismissive. Maybe you are trying to keep a discussion going and they just want to end it-they are feeling pursued. The phrase then becomes dismissive because it’s not meant as a validation, but to shut you up.
There is quite a bit of misunderstanding—and thus misuse of the phrase. Some think it is an apology—understandable since it includes I’m sorry. But an apology is something you give for an action you performed and for which you regret; it’s part of making amends. The validatory phrase has no intention of being an apology, but your MLCer may not know that and they could be using it to give the appearance of an apology.
I’m sorry you feel that way is a starter phrase for validating. It is non-specific and if used too often becomes its opposite—invalidating and dismissive. It’s something I recommend when you don’t know what to say that is specific regarding what it is the other person is feeling. But if you can it is better to say I’m sorry you’re feeling… and then identify the feeling, emotion or actions which may be yours. It is also important that you mean it. I can’t stress that enough—especially since it gets overused in order to dismiss.
I’m sorry you feel that I’ve been ignoring you when I haven’t answered the phone when you are calling.
That example is part of a continuing discussion, so you may need to follow it with an explanation as to why you have not been answering the phone. Maybe you weren’t home, maybe you were on the other line, maybe you were too busy for any calls or maybe you needed space from the drama and did not want to talk to your MLCer but would have answered calls from someone else. But if you don’t give a reason, your MLCer will fill in the blank with something negative that may be about how you hate them, you’re trying to keep the kids away or you’re plotting against them.
I’m sorry you feel that way is not a good line to use when the discussion is ongoing—at that time. So it’s something you can use to end the topic. Or when you are responding to something that needs no discussion such as an insult.
I hate you.
That is meant to hurt and not meant as a comment for further discussion. Usually a person who says they hate you does not want to continue the conversation so that you can find out why? If necessary, you can delve deeper when they are willing to be more polite and rational.
Context: A discussion about divorce. The MLCer wants a divorce and you do not. This example is one from my own story.
You’re just being vindictive.
This is not a discussion where the two of you are going to meet in the middle. You may be legally forced to negotiate if there is a divorce in process, but that does not mean you are going to agree with what you are being forced to do. There is no need to continue this discussion—it’s been hashed out already and it’s a stalemate. The I’m sorry you feel that way is a validation that you are in disagreement, and you accept that—you are agreeing to disagree.
Has your MLCer siad I’m sorry you feel that way to you? And if so, in what context? Did it feel as though they were trying to be dismissive, offer an insincere apology or use something in your tool box against you?