Fixing The Puzzle Of Communication Breakdowns
Fixing The Puzzle Of Communication Breakdowns Communication breakdowns often occur in the office, on-the-go, and in our personal relationships, for various reasons. And the effects of failed communication can be very damaging. Whether the problem is due to people not speaking up for themselves or from not listening intently to others, here are some tips for overcoming these communication breakdowns. The Tree of Life Whether it is a work environment, social or personal relationship; see it as a growing tree, which has strong roots, a solid trunk, many branches, healthy leaves and bears fruit. Which can withstand all seasons. Try Not To Rush If you sound rushed and distracted when you say something, people may think you are not interested or feel offended, because it seems like they are unimportant to you. If you do happen to be rushed, provide the other person with a brief explanation that you are very busy with something right now, but do want to talk with later, so either you or they can contact you again. Confirm You’re On The Same Page Often breakdowns occur because someone has false assumptions about someone or about something they expect someone to do and communicate based on those assumptions. It is best to confirm in conversation or in a memo or e-mail what you expect someone to do or what you understand they want you to do. Then, if they don’t understand something the same way, they should tell you, so you are both on the same page. Encourage Questions Communication breakdowns often occur because someone doesn’t say something or ask for clarification because they don’t want to appear stupid; they feel shy or uncomfortable asking or explaining something; they want to be diplomatic by not bringing up a subject that might make others feel uncomfortable. Or perhaps a person doesn’t want to admit he or she wasn’t listening or didn’t understand something, and hopes to figure it out later. Make The Other Person Feel Comfortable The approach to use here is to make the other person feel comfortable and safe to ask questions, even if he or she thinks he or she should know that. Conversely, if you are unsure or unclear about something, ask. If the boss seems hard to approach, try asking a co-worker. Or try feeding back what you do understand and invite the other person to fill in what he or she also wants you to do. Practice Active Listening Communication breakdowns also occur when people don’t allow time for others to ask questions or don’t take time to listen carefully to others themselves. For example, a boss gives everyone instructions on what to do, but not everyone understands. Or an employee doesn’t listen closely when instructions are given. Make sure everyone has understood what you have just explained and invite them to ask questions if they don’t understand something. Another approach is to invite someone to provide a brief recap of what they think you said. Conversely, if you are listening to instructions, actively engage your mind so you really listen. For example, imagine yourself doing what you will be doing, as the other person talks. And afterwards, be ready to ask for clarification or examples if there is anything you don’t understand. Communication Breakdowns In Relationships Communication can make or break any relationship. In some relationships partners feel they don’t know how to communicate. That most conversations become arguments and remain unresolved. The Dance Therapists often use what is referred to as the “dance". That communication flows back and forth between two people (spouses, partners, mother/child, co-workers) in a harmonious way, and is maintained and reinforced by both parties, though in varying degrees. The therapist then works towards changing the “dance” or communication patterns, so the partners can take what is discussed and practiced in the therapy room, to the “real world”—their life, their everyday exchanges. Allow Each Other To Express Feelings And Thoughts Ultimately, each person has to learn how to become more effective and proficient at expressing what they are feeling and thinking. In addition, learn to listen to the other person, without interjecting, talking over, interrupting, or responding defensively. This may seem a tall order but, it is possible. Practice makes perfect. Think how you want to be listened to, so why aren't your partners needs just as important and valid? Creating Change In the beginning, and especially in the heat of the moment, the ability to communicate effectively is that much more challenging. Sometimes conversations in relationships do not go as planned. No relationship is perfect. However, by having the desire to be open to change and being more flexible in your thinking, you will both figure out what works best for both of you. Over time and with practice, change will and does occur. This creates hope for future and healthier conversations. The key is to start small, have a plan, and decide on a couple of changes together. This helps couples feel they are working together to mend their differences, which reinforces their relationship. Strategies To Improve Communication 1. Create your own marriage or relationship rules. People don’t always know how to start this process, but they really like this idea! They find it to be eye-opening, beneficial, and helps create a conversation about their relationship. 2. Before you get into any discussion, determine the emotional mood you are in and then communicate that to the other person. Ask, “Is this a good time to talk?” If not, ask when might be a good time? Schedule a time and then both people need to honor the plan. 3. Forgo technology one night a week. Research has proven that overuse of technology can negatively affect relationships. 4. Request an apology if you think you deserve one. Be the one to extend the olive branch once in awhile. 5. Mind-reading does not work and is futile—though, people keep trying. It’s your responsibility to tell your partner what you want and need. It is not his or hers to figure it out. 6. Take certain trigger words off the table— "I'm divorcing you"; "I am leaving"; "I am out of here"; especially in the heat of an argument. 7. If your partner is making an honest attempt to repair the relationship, then try and make a physical connection. 8. Negotiating is not the same as complaining. Negotiating means that you state clearly, without fighting or blaming, how the status quo needs to change, embarking on a new direction. 9. Learn how to self-regulate! In other words manage your own emotions. You are responsible for yourself, not anyone else. 10. Use your energy to take care of yourself and not to try and manage another person. This does not work and is also just as futile as mind-reading. 11. Have respect. If they ask you to do something, do it. 12. Be kind even when they are not. Be the one to extend the olive branch once in awhile. 13. Learn how to not take things personally all the time. Yet take ownership where it’s needed, if your actions are the issue. 14. Be flexible in your thinking, how you solve a problem, and be open to other alternatives and options. People have a tendency to be close-minded and overly opinionated. These traits get in the way of good communication and thwart progress. 15. Stay on topic by asking, “What is the real issue?” When a conversation turns heated, couples often throw in the “kitchen sink,” which means all unresolved issues and sensitive spots of the other is fair game. 16. Tone and inflection goes a long way. Just a change in inflection in one or two words will change the course of the conversation. So does starting a statement with “I” versus “you.” Nothing sends a person into defensiveness mode more than a statement that begins with “you.” 17. Employ the 5:1 ratio. For every negative comment, you should be stating 5 positive comments. 18. Add humor! Be a little lighthearted. Humor has a way of diluting and diffusing tension and has immeasurable positive results. Keep in mind that it’s about creating the conversation and encouraging compassion for one another that will steer you away from the confrontation and criticism.
Michael J Robey
Psychic Medium | Psychic Investigator