Communication is the primary way we make contact with one another. It is the world-wide medium for love, hate, fear, joy, and all other human emotions. Communication is the first transformation of an idea in your mind to an external manifestation of that idea. It is essential to fulfilling our wants and needs in life and the one critical ingredient found in all successful relationships.
Communication can create great civilizations, great nations, great discoveries, and great people. Poor communication (or lack of it) can topple governments, stifle creativity, shrivel human development, and isolate individuals from one another. Indeed, your communications skills can “make or break” your life. It is the way we transform our ideas, images, memories, thoughts and feelings (our mental activity) into sequences of sound that we send into the world.
Communication Busters – When two people are arguing or conflicting, helpful, problem-solving communication often comes to a complete halt. Communication “busters” are often used as weapons to defend oneself or to attack another. By sharing some of these common communication busters, you clients can be more likely to inhibit using them in the communications.
SAYING NOTHING. People stop communicating either because they don’t know what to say, or are too afraid to say anything, or they believe silence is a punishment. In any case, saying nothing abruptly stops communication. Communication is effective only as a two way conversation….not two monologues.
EXPRESSING WHAT YOU DON’T WANT. Communication is disrupted when someone goes on and on about what s/he doesn’t want. Imagine going into a restaurant and telling the waiter all the things on the menu you don’t want. Phrases like, “I don’t want to…,” or worse, “I don’t want you to….
ASKING QUESTIONS (“GRILLING”). When people are questioned, they often become defensive. “What do you want to do?,” or, “Don’t you want to….?” may seem harmless enough. More effective communicative phrases are statements. All questions can be revised to become “I-statements.” “I want you to tell me what you….” or better yet, “When you say that (or behave that way), I feel (or think)….” Statements about your own feelings and thoughts are the most useful antidotes for communication busters.
COMPLAINING. Unless you follow your complaint with some possible solutions to your complaint, complaining just muddies the waters of otherwise clear communication. Complaining that, “Hey, there’s no more toilet paper in here,” might just elicit the response, “Thank you for sharing that.” Complaints abrade the communication process and are very poor communicators.
BLAMING. Blaming is a type of communication buster that is nasty for both parties, the “blamer” and the “blamee.” The blamer merely feels weaker and more helpless because assigning power or responsibility to another through blame, undercuts one’s own power and ability to respond. The blamee often feels guilty or inadequate and often simply quits communicating. The blamer and the blamee both lose.
ACCUSATIONS, CRITICISMS, AND NEGATIVE INNUENDO all bust up the communication process in a dramatic way. These are the tools of a frightened, defensive or angry person. When we feel accused, we want to defend ourselves. When we feel criticized, we become fearful, hostile or ashamed. When we are accused or criticized by innuendo, we feel helpless (or crazy). All of these responses block the channels of communication.
“ME TOO LISTENING” is a common trap for many of us. It stops communication early and implies that you aren’t really listening. When you attempt to be empathetic by saying, “me too…I had that happen to me once,” or “I know just how you feel,” you are actually changing the focus of the conversation from the them to you. You need to listen long and deep before sharing elements of your life. Similar experiences can create a bond, but shared too early, they will more likely create a barrier. Source: Dr. Patrick Williams, MCC, BCC
Read next weeks post for more about Communication Smoothers . . .