We are not born with knowledge, it is acquired. We did not have control of who we were born to or who our role models were. If the communication we have learned is no longer effective then it’s a skill we can enhance if we want to have more successful or positive outcomes.
Communication can be seen through our attentiveness, facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, choice of words, listening abilities, compassion, empathy, empowerment and also by our selfishness, egocentric or uncaring sociopathic responses. Communication certainly makes the world go round.
Let’s explore the verbal expression part of effective communication. I have personally seen so many relationships deteriorate because of the inability to self express. Many people have found themselves in trouble because they have not been able to say “no,” both in their personal lives and in their workplaces when they want to. It may take simply learning to say “no, but thank you for asking.” This can end the conversation on a positive note for those who have unconscious guilty feelings and are still driven to please others.
Many have not been able to say what they are thinking or they have shared in a way that they have been misperceived. They may have suffered consequences of such misperceptions and have succumbed to false beliefs, obsessive thoughts, and their unproductive silence that have many times resulted in unresolved conflicts, “passive aggressive responses” and neglect toward meeting their own needs.
Facts toward better communication:
- No two people are exactly alike
- Everybody makes mistakes
- Feelings are unique to the individual and are neither right nor wrong
- Seeking clarification can rid false beliefs
- Control impulsivity, set boundaries, look at end response
- It is better to be happy in the long term than short term
If no two people are alike then we simply can’t please everybody, yet I still meet many people who get reinforced by other people’s responses. If we give other people power over how we feel, then we won’t find balance. We don’t have control of others, so to find emotional balance we must please ourselves. We can learn control. We have the control of our inner voice, referred to as our own self-talk. I personally have learned to say, “I would like to please everybody, but I know I can’t.”
If you are the “perfectionist” and admit that everyone makes mistakes, then that includes you. Explain why you set a goal to be perfect when you know it is unattainable. You actually set yourself up to fail and hold yourself victim with your own self-defeating consequences. Reminding yourself of the simple fact that everyone makes mistakes may just reduce the fear that affect empowerment and self-expressions.
Since feelings are neither right nor wrong, why not use that as a strategy when starting a conversation? “I feel nervous when you raise your voice” or “I feel like I can’t think straight when…” Strategies that can also be learned may include “Nothing personal but when people point at me, I feel...” If you compare this to conversations that are accusatorial such as, “You did this!” or “You are the reason why…” it may put the recipient of the conversation on the defensive.
Making observations and setting boundaries may be helpful in creating a calming environment that promotes relaxation, limits distractions and supports listening for reciprocation and clarification. If someone in my family for instance is yelling at me I will simply respond, “Nothing personal but I cannot hear what you have to say when you are yelling. I personally cannot be around that energy. I do however want to hear what you have to say so in about an hour when you feel more relaxed we can have a conversation. Thank you for your understanding.”
Controlling impulsive and passive aggressive responses can foster effective communication both in our personal life and places of employment. Learning to push our pause button and seek clarification or evaluate the anticipated outcome of our communication before impulsively reacting can promote the change necessary to get the end responses we are looking for. We can be happy short term, but if it leads to being unhappy in the long run, is that the outcome that we are truly looking for? If not, then something has to change.