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Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

Many times there is a breakdown in communication and a purposeful lack of understanding because we are so busy thinking about our next argument that we don’t LISTEN to what the other person is saying.

What does this have to do with the title Talk TO me – not AT me? Well – they walk hand in hand with each other. Let me explain.

There are times when you are going to have a verbal disagreement with someone. Many times the “fight” becomes unfair because instead of dealing with the real issue, you’re busy slinging hash, name calling, bringing up old history, or laying blame. It’s a method of deferment – and it’s dirty pool.

Effective listening requires shutting your mouth and not talking over the other person. It also means you need to actively LISTEN to what the other party is saying. You do NOT have to agree with that they’re saying but at least you are letting them express themselves. This also means stop thinking about a rebuttal before they’re finished speaking because if you do that then you may only be hearing half of what they’re saying.

I would challenge all of you to really think about how you speak to others (or how others speak to you) when you are in a verbal repartee. Note the difference in the following examples:

  1. “I do not like how you’re talking to me” vs. “You’re an asshole.”
  2. “I don’t understand what you mean” vs. “You’re always so vague!”
  3. “I feel like I’m always doing all the work” vs. “You don’t do sh** around here.”

Recently I showed displeasure when my husband kept leaving his beer & soda cans strewn throughout the house.
“I feel like I can’t keep up between working from home and cleaning up after you and the pets.”
His reply, “Oh, like you don’t make a mess?”

I wanted to throw something at him! So I tried again.

“I’m just trying to say that I would like a little help around here.”
With much fanfare and dripping sarcasm he walks over to the recycling bag, “Look, HONEY. I’m putting my can in the bag.”

— except he didn’t drain and rinse it first (which he sees me doing all the time).

Passive-Aggression anyone?

From there I usually shut up or call him an asshole.

The point that I’m trying to get through is this – when having a discussion with someone, do your best to omit the words “YOU” because it’s like a big, verbal, poking finger. Instead implement the words “ME, MY, and I” to express YOUR feelings. Keep your ears open to see if they are speaking TO you or AT you too.

As for my husband? Well, he’s a work in progress but he’s getting better. He just needs a little more practice.

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One night, my husband and I were talking about impossible decisions.  And this is one which we vehemently disagree.  I’m curious to see how you all respond.  Note:  This is not to undermine a very real situation but perhaps to open a dialogue with those you love who need to know exactly how you feel and how you would react.

Here is the situation:

There is a young couple very much in love. Great communication, great sex, best friends…

She is quite healthy. Hardly sick a day in her life. She is also very pregnant and about to give birth to a child who, for the entire pregnancy, is also very healthy. All seems to go well with delivery… until it doesn’t go well.

Mother is bleeding out. Only one will survive. The doctors approach the husband with the impossible choice:

a) save the mama or b) save the baby

CHOOSE OR THEY BOTH DIE

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All of us, at some point in our life, has either been the recipient or the presenter of THE SILENT TREATMENT. No one really likes it but we have to admit, it can be used as a powerful tool to close a deal or get one’s way. But it can be a symptom of a communication/relationship breakdown.

PART 1:  WHEN THE SILENT TREATMENT IS EFFECTIVE

ONE:  As a parent I admit I am a yeller. I yell, and Yell, and YELL! My kids are used to the yelling. Most of the time I’m just being vocal because I’m frustrated, and they don’t listen to the yelling. It’s just white noise to them.

But when I’m angry! Really, really angry… I get quiet… and then they’re scared because that silence is LOUD. Generally, their behavior snaps to good, they clean up, and they’re trying to make mom happy again because mom’s silence is SCARY. They’ll say anything to get you to talk “You still love me, don’t you, mommy?”

TWO:  Closing the deal. Whether you’re a salesperson or selling an idea to your spouse, the silent treatment is an absolute must-have skill because the first one to speak generally caves in.

Example 1:
salesperson: So what do you think?

customer: [silently thinking “how will I explain the motorcycle purchase to my wife?]

salesperson gets nervous: “We can take an extra 10% off for being a loyal customer

customer: [silence. 10% off, I can justify that to my wife] salesperson nervous about losing the sale gives other incentives…and his commission isn’t nearly as good.

The salesman caved because he spoke first.

Example 2:
salesperson: So what do you think?

customer: [silently thinking]

salesperson: [silently waiting tick tock, tick tock]

customer: I’ll take it.

DEAL CLOSED.

Example 1:
child: Mommy, can I have that shiny new Tonka truck, please?

mom: No. I don’t want to spend the money.

child: [Throws a tantrum, makes a lot of noise. Mother is TICKED!]

DEFINITELY NO TOY

Example 2:

child: Mommy, can I have that shiny new Tonka truck, please?

mom: No. I don’t want to spend the money

child: [forlorn but quietly accepts the decision. He’s sad but he smiles with hope in his eyes every time you look his way.]

mom: SIGH you’ve been so good. Go ahead and get your truck.

WIN FOR THE KID!

Tell me I’m wrong?

In these cases, the silent treatment gives the other party time to think about the decision. Too many people are uncomfortable with the silence. They need an immediate answer or instant gratification so they talk first to plead the case. Little do they realize they are sabotaging themselves.

Now in the case of sample B: with the little boy. Even if mom sincerely couldn’t afford the toy right then and there, you can bet she was probably thinking how much he deserved it for being so good so the next trip out she might surprise him with it. Am I wrong?

PART 2: WHEN THE SILENT TREATMENT IS BAD

As I mentioned in Part 1, we’ve all used the Silent Treatment to close a sale or get our way, but there are times when this powerful tool is used for evil.

Q: How can being silent be bad?
A: When there is a lack of communication or relationship breakdown.

When people are in a relationship one would hope they’ve learned how to meaningfully communicate with each other. Sometimes this is not the case.

A case of the empty nest: An example might be two very busy people with jobs, kids, house duties…and they haven’t REALLY spoken to each other in years except to pass off messages: Pick the kids up from school; Please pick up milk on your way home, etc. Then once the kids are gone you have nothing to talk about. Sometimes that silence is unbearable.

A case of emotional abuse: A: When in the midst of a discussion and it gets heated, especially when there is a disagreement, and one person turns away and gives the silent treatment/cold shoulder – it is a break in communication. It is a physical manifestation of denying the existence or opinions of the other person. Said that way, it’s hurtful when that happens, isn’t it?

If you feel like you’re being nagged and you ignore them because you KNOW it drives them crazy. You have stopped communicating and now you are being passive-aggressive.

But how is being quiet wrong?
1. Perhaps because you are not dealing with the reason WHY they might be nagging at you. Perhaps you don’t want to be blamed, acknowledge that you have faults, or feel guilty about not following through on something you promised.

2. Now there is the other scenario where the silent treatment is implemented because you feel like you don’t have a voice in the relationship so you shut up just to get away from “the discussion” as soon as possible.

If you don’t have a voice in a partnership then it is not a healthy one! There is no healthy dialogue and you don’t feel like your opinion counts. If that happens, then your self-esteem plummets.

3. Using the silent treatment as a form of manipulation. For example, at a party: “Well, since my boyfriend isn’t talking to me then I’m just going to ignore him the ENTIRE night. Maybe I’ll just go talk to that cute boy over there.” – or – “If she really cares about me then she’s going to ask what’s wrong.”

The one who plays the silent treatment card is assuming the other person can read their mind.

Guess what?
We can’t read your mind!

HEAL THE COMMUNICATION GAP

To heal the communication gap it’s always best to acknowledge it. “I am too angry to talk about this right now. Let’s try to discuss this when we’re both calm. I need time to think.”

“I don’t feel like you’re listening to what I have to say so I’m going to walk away right now.”

Even a “Please let me know when it’s my turn to talk” is better than shutting up in these cases.

If you are using it for manipulation then acknowledge that! Speak up. “Hey, I don’t feel comfortable standing at the party by myself. Can you introduce me to some of your friends?”

“We should talk” works and be willing to be quiet and actively listen!  It’s much healthier than closing your mouth and your ears!

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ASD

An example of the very literal child

~ Never take comprehension for granted
and never make them feel the fool.
~ It’s very hard to live one’s life
when you already feel like a tool.

 

This is only a tiny excerpt of what I had originally posted on April 12, 2014.  To read the entire article, kindly follow the link.

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