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6 Unintentional Ways People Sabotage Effective Communication

Apr 3, 2008
Making moralistic judgements, Making Comparisons and Denying Personal Responsibility are the 3 unconscious habits that block effective communication. I discussed these in a previous article and gave examples of how they cause Communication Frustration for both people. This article will help you see the other forms those habits can take in your communication at home and work.

1. Analyzing: This is when we make interpretations that are not based on objective facts but our opinion of what is taking place. This used to play out with Kay and me like so. If Kay was wanting more affection than I was giving her she was "needy and dependent". But if I wanted more affection than Kay was giving she was "selfish and insensitive". Once we begin to learn compassionate communication it was much easier to realize that Kay nor I were "wrong". These analyses were actually expressions of our own needs and values.

2. Mistaking Morals for Values: A value judgement helps us decide which qualities we value in life; for instance we might chose honesty, respect, peace, or freedom. These are always a reflection of how we believe life can best be served. With moralistic judgements we are attacking people and behaviors that oppose our value judgements. For example, "We say violence is bad, and people who murder others are evil". This was a struggle for us to change our language from "Violence is bad" to "I'm fearful of the use of violence to solve conflicts; I value the resolution of human conflicts through other means". Because, for us, our church was where we experienced the most confusion over morals and values.

3. Manipulation: Is when we are trying to make others unwillingly do what we want. Manipulation never works because counterproductive emotions like fear or anger are not expressed verbally but in how the person performs what is being demanded, if they perform at all. Things Kay and I discovered: Kay telling me how her best friend's hubby is such a handy man never made me cut the grass when or how she wanted. Me telling my son Mitchell, with dyslexia, how his older gifted brother JD taught himself to read never got Mitchell to read faster. Even if you have good intentions (like we thought we did) manipulations are guaranteed to wound yourself and others deeply.

4. One-way Philosophy and Politics: Philosophy is your world view. Politics is your actions in it. It really shocked Kay and me to see how our Philosophy and Politics were starting unintentional conflicts. We missed out on learning new ideas, making deep friendships, and having bigger opportunities when our philosophies and politics were a one-way conversation. People create conflicts about Philosophy or Politics because they mistake their moral judgments as facts. We know we did.

5. Actions of Others: This is when we actually shift responsibility based on other's behavior. Lessons we learned: Me telling Kay I yelled at the boys because they had bad manners at the table makes the boys responsible for my outburst. Me accepting a last minute golfing invitation with my friends when I promised to hang out with the kids makes my friends responsible for my commitments. Other examples you might encounter include: "I lied to the client because my boss told me too", "I hate going to work, but I do it because I'm a husband and father.", "I stayed late at work because my boss said to". We are dangerous when we are not conscious of our responsibility for how we behave, think, and feel.

6. Hiding Behind Policies and Rules: This is when we blame policies, procedures, and management for our actions. For example, "I'm sorry, It's school policy", "You'll have to talk to my boss", "Our records show", "I don't want to get into trouble", "We don't make exceptions", "Management says", "It's always be done that way". Whenever we shift personal responsibility to policies, rules, and management we are deceiving ourselves into thinking our behavior is valid.

There's a lot to consider here. While you consider what you've read have compassion with yourself and what you find. You're not broken, in need of fixing, and there isn't anything wrong with you. Place attention on where these habits are showing up and creating unintentional conflict for yourself and others. Just patiently observe how you interact with people. You can also share this article with your spouse or friends and ask which ones they think show up most.
About the Author
About the author: John Reisinger can help you learn remarkably effective communication skills. Transform your conversations at home and work and experience Remarkable Living.
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