Why do we communicate? Is it to transfer and receive information? Or could it be to transfer and receive information to confirm and validate our own preferable reality? Communication is vital for our development as individuals, groups, businesses and as a successful species.
Consider the following 10 ways to (not) communicate well, that may frequently trip up good communication and create the wrong impression. In order to have the opportunity to do something different!
Keep talking: Some people use communication in order to help themselves think. Their verbalisation is frequently an expression of what they think from moment to moment and is used as a vehicle to help them process information. If this is style of communication is done to excess, by continuously talking and interrupting you unfortunately may give the impression that you are not interested in anyone else’s opinion. It can give the impression that you are a poor listener, possibly very self-opinionated and have a bad case of verbal diarrhoea.
Nobody at home: Other people like to consider carefully what is communicated to them. They go into their thoughts to contemplate the meaning and their response before they verbally reply. This naturally may cause gaps in their immediate responsiveness. If this style of communication becomes over dominant, it may give the impression to others that you are not engaged or even interested in the subject or them, you don’t have an opinion or possibly you are rather rude and probably don’t like them in any case.
Devil in the detail: Some people like to focus on detail and the facts in the matter. If this information is over focused upon when communicating about someone else’s enthusiastic idea, you may inadvertently give the impression that you are too picky, resistant, rigid, slow-moving and unimaginative. It may also seem that you always look for the negative and you possibly devalue ideas that are not your own.
The matrix: Other people like to look at the bigger picture and look for broader connections when discussing ideas. Again employed to excess, it is likely to give the impression to others that you are possibly off the wall, random, out there man, or somewhat detached from reality. In a work meeting, your contribution is to talk about the possible sensitivity of weather patterns to a butterfly flapping its wings, may possibly have this effect.
Open book: People with this approach want communication to have personal shared meaning, which they hope will create a very positive environment. They are likely to link information and their responses to personal experiences and relationships. Again over employed, others discussing a specific point may get the impression that you are embarrassing, lacking in boundaries, emotionally draining, needy and overly sensitive, you simply cannot stay on point.
One direction: Other people like to direct their communication by solely focussing on the goal and the logical steps to achieve it. However over focusing on the goal and communicating pure logic, especially when the content of your communication intrinsically may impact other people. This can possibly give the impression that you are non-caring, maybe selfish, egocentric, only focussed on what is important to you and not really concerned with the welfare of others.
Move on: Some people like to receive and communicate information that has a clear purpose, beginning middle and end in order that they can address it and move on. However in the rush to communicate information with a strict time limit, it may inadvertently give the impression that you are controlling, like to push your own ideas through, pressurise other people into accepting them. That you are Machiavellian and have already made your mind up regardless of what anyone else says. So there is obviously no real point in them contributing.
The creative: Other people simply like to use communication to explore different possibilities and go with the flow to see where the exchange of ideas may creatively lead. They may go off on tangents, throw in random thoughts speak in metaphors. Such as tell a story from eastern philosophy about a Buddhist monk and his observation of a cherry tree during the changing seasons. However with over use of this creative style of communication you may be interpreted as frustrating, distracting, holding up progress and people may think, “What the hell you are on about”.
What’s the argument? In situations where there is some form of increasing conflict or dispute, some people may prefer to focus on the tangible detail of the dispute in their communication and ignore the broader relationship difficulties. By adopting this approach you could be perceived as cold, lacking in empathy and understanding. You also may be perceived as simply out to get your own way, controlling, manipulative and seeking to address your own specific agenda and needs. Other people may naturally focus more on communicating about the upset that may have arisen in the relationship that may have led to the issue. Rather than on any concrete suggestion to address the detail in the dispute. If you over communicate in this way you are likely to be accused of being avoidant of the issue, having an underlying agenda, sour grapes, throwing up unnecessary old stuff, being very difficult no matter how reasonable the suggestion. Both styles of communication are likely to cause a possible escalation of the dispute from the other side.
Is Silence Golden? We may sometimes feel that we can stop communicating in an interaction and sometimes it’s a good idea. However sometimes not communicating is likely to be interpreted as still communicating something, even just silence. This unfortunately may confirm other peoples initial negative judgement of you. They filter your silence into a pre-determined judgement. Frequently you may be perceived as being overly sensitive, very frustrating, being afraid, having a tantrum, attention seeking, selfish and deep down know you’re in the wrong. Or why else go so silent?
It is also worth considering that the above styles of interaction are very likely to be intensified and further polarised by either stress, uncertainty or conflict.