Spark Inspiration

Constructive Conversations

It happens in the blink of an eye. There is a swell of emotion. A chain of thoughts appears. Usually, our reaction occurs out of habit. A long-standing belief gets triggered and down the rabbit-hole we go. This can cause terse and tense exchanges. Angry and hurt feelings arise. Resentment builds and lines of communication break down.Business people talking and walking in park

There are an infinite number of ways to interpret communication from others. Your experience of what someone is saying, whether the communication is face-to-face, through email/text, or in a voicemail message, can be easily misinterpreted. People make assumptions that do not match the other person’s original intention. Meaning is given to the message or messenger. It even happens when there is a lack of communication. Silences are filled in with whatever meaning we choose. All of this is compounded by cultural and gender differences in styles of communication.

At this point, it’s a good idea to take a deep breath. Consider your reaction…what is being triggered for you?  How were you feeling before and after the interaction? What do your feelings tell you about what you need? Take another deep breath. Ask the other person to clarify what they mean. Compare notes about what you thought you heard them say and what they meant to say. Talk it out.  

With a building workload and deadlines looming, it can seem like there is no time to have these conversations. My experience tells me that there is not enough time not to. As we all well know, miscommunications can decrease productivity, employee satisfaction, and create unwell workplaces. The next time you find yourself being triggered by what someone else is communicating…be mindful about your options.

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1 Comment

Great advice, Doc!
We misinterpret so much, especially when the other person is silent, busy in their own thoughts, not needing to speak.
Please keep up the good work. I have posted this column on my facebook page for my people of Bermuda.

Posted by Dr. Cindy L. Morris on 10 September 2013 @ 7am

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