One of the things that stands out in my mind from when I got an MBA, is that communication is the biggest challenge in corporations. I have found that is certainly true in all of life. Communication, of course, is a huge topic written about in many books. I would like to bring out one very important point about communication in this blog: Don’t let personal issues get in the way.
I notice how people react to a communication breakdown. They often feel that the other person is not listening to them or doesn’t value them. As a result, they become irate. I’ve also noticed that people are habitually too quick to express themselves without carefully choosing their words. In fact, they often don’t make sense. They may leave out critical information or don’t express themselves clearly in one form or another. People’s thoughts often make perfect sense to them but they will leave out key points in their expression.
You may take someone’s words as a personal assault or you may become hostile towards what you perceive as a personal shortcoming of that person. Either way, it is taken on a personal level. What is actually trying to be communicated becomes secondary with personal conflict becoming center stage.
The all-important question is how do you get past that? I say again: Don’t let personal issues get in the way. Try to remain calm. Take a step back. Collect your thoughts and get into balance. Be patient with yourself and the other person. You just can’t allow an emotional tangent to overtake you. If you do, chances are that will spur an emotional tangent in the person you are trying to communicate with. Then you are both off and running, doing the hostility cha-cha with one another.
Please realize that in such communication breakdowns, you don’t realize it to be a communication breakdown in the moment. You generally perceive it as a personal flaw in one form or another. You’ve got to get over that hump to truly communicate with someone. Communication takes work even when personal issues aren’t in the way. Getting frustrated only makes communication more challenging. The other person usually takes your frustration personally. You have to be patient with the process of becoming a good communicator.
So, in closing, I say again: Don’t let personal issues get in the way. You’ve got to work with and around personal issues until there is a meeting of minds.
Sometimes subjects can be very complicated with many moving pieces. Sometimes those moving pieces are triggers for personal issues. This blog is the perfect medicine to achieve clarity and make progress in the best manner possible.
Very timely blog. It seems interpersonal matters in general are a point of stress right now.
Great points. I especially like: Don’t let personal issues get in your way. & You have to be patient with the process of becoming a good communicator.
Great blog. Insightful and very helpful.
I like writing because it gives an opportunity to edit, making it easier to communicate clearly. That said, a lot more can be communicated in person but it is “messy”. It is a challenge for me to slow down, say complete thoughts, give the information that is relevant… but not superfluous, AND listen. For sure I miss some of what the other person is saying if an emotion has been triggered. This blog is great food for thought and an area worth putting attention on. Thanks!
Messy communications indeed! I seem to attract people that need to be listened to and tell their story ad nauseum (and energetically I am silent after one of more attempts to redirect, then swallow this). Historically this has been with mom who just today spent 10 plus minutes of our phone call raging about the refugees coming into Germany while watching on CNN. On one level I know that this is her own rage at being displaced in Europe when she was a child. Often I get irritated when this or any other topic that I can do nothing about comes up in a verbal rant, so I am participating in the “hostility cha-cha” on that level (I do love the way you turn a phrase Michaelji!). With Venus just finishing retrograde and going into MeR soon, thank you so much for your timely communication and reminder of 2nd response.
I realize in the communication breakdowns that I experience as well as those I observe, that there seems to be an aspect of the person that doesn’t feel heard enough to begin with, before the communication is taking place. This ends up agitating one to not be able to chill and hold back and instead push to be heard. I also find that real communication can place when one is listening between the words to understand the other instead of listening to the actual words.
Yes indeed, excellent! … two very good examples both stemming from personal issues. One feeling you are not heard even if you are. The other, being able to hear if only you would really listen.
Wow. The wisdom and content of this post is perfectly timed for me personally. I am in Greece on vacation with my loving, caring life partner, all the while feeling lonely and sad.
My daughter and I have not spoken to each other for 4 months with the exception of a belated father’s day card and (what I thought) was a reconciliation phone call. We live on oppisite coasts. That feels like a very long time since we used to talk or text a 2-3 times a week.
I am profoundly sad, hurt, angry and confused. Until I read this blog I assumed (wrongly) that it was all about her life choices, starting with boyfriend. But now I am thinking it may be more about my anger than the choices she has made. Since reading this blog, irealize the truth is, I am angry because I have lost control. What I mean is, she makes life choices I disapprove of strongly. I mask my anger in sentiments of subtle disappointment. The “suggestions” I offer are really passive agressive demands that I try to disguise as wisdom. I ask myself: “who is she, what happened to her, how did she get like this?” I guess I am really asking “who gave her permission not to need my approval?” Although we haven’t really spoken for months, I guess we haven’the communicated since the day I began to lose “control.”
This isn’the about me “approving,” it’s about learning how to communicate.
I am embarrassed to share this story because honesty demands awareness and admission of my own ego. But it might be the first step to reconciliation. Thank you Michael.
Being the father of two teenage daughters, your email was particularly compelling to me. Giving my daughters the space to self actualize balanced with attempting to guide them (in these days when social programming in schools and by peers is so strong) is not so easy to do. Thank you for your comment. I believe many parents will find it helpful.
Thanks for the encouragement. I am learning so much about myself, my fears, my prejudices,my hypocrisy and my ego. This blog, “communication in a nutshell” cuts through all of that posturing.Things don’t look so sad. You’very given me hope.
This blog is a wonderful example of effective communication. There is one central idea expressed in a few ways to help make it more clear.
I was just told that someone interpreted this article as saying to forget about the people and focus on the task. That is 100% not what I was saying. Rather work with and manage the people issues so that they do not get in the way of the task. I hope that is clear.
There is something I really love about communication. Especially attempting to communicate the Knowledge. It is interesting how some times it can feel like I am doing it so well and other times I feel like I am failing miserably. I guess I love the challenge of communicating, and how I feel inside when I am really able to touch someone else through the spoken world.
Hopefully we all continue to improve in our ability to communicate Michaelji’s vision. We need to inspire more people to join us, and I believe we will. Many Thanks!