It seems like this is something that most of us struggle with to some degree. We all want to be heard, but use communication styles that may prevent our messages from getting through. The most common ones in my house include
- Lecturing. Ever try to get a kid to do something by lecturing? It doesn’t work. It is draining to all parties, even those on the peripheral of the activity.
- Defensiveness. Lecturing brings out the defensiveness in most people. When someone is being lectured, they’re being told. They don’t get to have input because it isn’t a conversation. Another cause of defensiveness is when a person feels like they’re being attacked. This typically happens when people forget to use their “I statements.”
- Talking too much. I think this is heavily related to the above points. During a 30 minute lecture / defensiveness session, there is probably about 5 minutes of “meat.” Why not just have a 5 minute conversation where both sides are heard and then take a break? Sometimes the solution to communication stalemate is just letting both sides be heard. It is pretty powerful, even when the parties involved don’t necessarily agree.
- Expecting immediate attention. Ever try to get results by telling someone they need to stop everything they’re doing NOW and listen to you lecture? And then expect them to comply right away? It doesn’t work. First of all, you’re lecturing, which puts them on the defensive, and then you end up talking too much.