13th Oct 2020
Isn’t communication a funny old thing? Just when you think you’ve got every situation covered, someone moves the goal posts. Just when you think you think you’ve got a common understanding someone doesn’t live up to what is was you expected them of. The key word in there? Expected. When we feel our ‘expectation’ markers haven’t been met (I’m talking work and personal life here) our immediate reaction is usually anger. But actually what happens first is disappointment. But we are inclined to ignore that feeling and go straight to the anger, then we start blaming and criticising – ‘why haven’t you done this…’ or ‘we decided this was how it was going to go’ or ‘you know how I feel when you do/don’t do this/that and yet you still do it’. Do you throw in some contempt in there while you are at it? An eye roll? A lip sneer? What about in the tone of your voice? I bet you do. This can make the other person feel a bit attacked, perhaps. Under pressure, certainly, to perform or conform. Or they might go the opposite way and think, something along the lines of, stuff you. But no matter the reaction what the situation is a disagreement, an argument that can easily escalate into an ongoing issue that never gets fixed. What is standing in the way of getting communication issues resolved? The need to be right. I am right, you are wrong. This makes you the victim and the other person the villain. Neither ‘labels’ are that pleasant nor (I’m sure) no one wants to be either.
What to do about it? To stop the escalation in its tracks and so if it happens again you can deal with it in a much more effective way. Et Voila! Effective Communication!
It’s a simple 4 steps (Dr Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap, 2009). Simple but not that easy.
Supposing you’ve decided this needs to be sorted. Of course, there are techniques around this and it all depends on exactly who and what. But in general, to sort an issues you, and I mean YOU, not the other person has to do, is remove these 4 (what is it with 4??) things from your dialogue. Blame, criticism, defensiveness, contempt. (Dr John Gottman’s 4 horses of the apocalypse). Then have the conversation. From professional and personal experience, this takes practice and time so good luck!!
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