Wow. I really struggled with this one this week. Did I want to do a video or a post on it? I might just end up doing both, so watch for it!
Every where I turn it seems there is miscommunication happening.
More than a handful of times in my life, I’ve been accused of getting hung up on semantics or belaboring a point, because I endeavor to understand what you are saying in the most crystal clear way possible. I have been tagged an ‘over analyzer’ as well, because, again, I want to understand.
Is this easy? No.
Is it working for me? I’d have to say yes.
While I may have accusations tossed at me and annoy some people, more often than not I can turn a misunderstanding around quite quickly. This proved invaluable in my work as a therapist working with couples and families as well as individuals seeking to have a perspective shift.
I have developed conflict resolution policies and protocols for companies. I have presented communication seminars as a form of conflict prevention. (Conflict and disagreement are not the same thing.) I include communication guidelines/tips in all the work I do. These are all indicators that its working for me.
You know how I know that not being crystal clear isn’t working for others? I see suffering. I see people end working relationships because of unexpressed expectations. Situations where a simple conversation could’ve opened up and expanded the relationship, they’ve chosen to abruptly dissolve it.
This is what I saw just this week. Someone who had hired a good quality service for months, suddenly ended the relationship without discussion. When inquired about it, several issues were revealed that had not been discussed earlier. This person dismissed the offer to have an open dialogue about their disappointments. I observed two people having a conversation with opposing views and one person deciding the conversation was disrespectful, where I saw open dialogue happening.
What makes it so hard to communicate? Why do you not want to put in the effort? Yes, it can be uncomfortable. Sometimes because you are vested in being ‘Right’. But usually because you are used to making a swift judgment and carrying out the sentence immediately, instead of taking some time to process what is actually going on. This is reactionary. Its knee jerk, ‘jerk’ being the keyword there. It is not on the path to your highest best self and life.
Talking through unmet unexpressed and even unrealistic expectations serves you better in the long run. You aren’t continually running through employees, friends, jobs, coffee houses, social media groups, etc.
I cannot tell you how many situations I’ve turned around simply by asking more questions to clarify intent. 90% of discourse has been discovered to be merely a misunderstanding of intention, quickly resolved with a ‘did you mean?’ And/or a ‘that was not my intention at all.” This has resulted in far superior relationships going forward.
This week that was not my experience, however. My personal experience with a vendor at the local Farmer’s Market, left me bewildered. This person was not open to my questions, nor even to my ‘oh no that was not what I was saying at all, in fact, quite the opposite.’ He was too involved in creating his little world of drama and discourse. He talked over me, cut me off and dismissed me. He wasn’t listening to what I was actually saying, but rather on what he thought I was going to say.
Not a way to keep a customer. No matter how many attempts I made to resolve the issue he was not hearing me. It got to the point where I returned the item I bought, asking for a refund because I didn’t want that energy anywhere near me.
I walked away in self-reflection, because I know I invited that on an energetic level. I learned what to do and not to do next time I have a whiff of someone vested in conflict.
I still was left to ponder the situations where I was a mere observer. Where others were accused of being ‘mean and nasty’ merely for expressing a differing viewpoint and wanting to discuss it. And where a mutually beneficial relationship ended because one doesn’t see the value of communicating concerns or questions.
I did what I could in the latter, which was to allow the willing one to process, self-reflect and learn from the situation (like I had done with the vendor). We used this experience to make some changes to their business practice, because this situation did highlight something that could be done better. In that respect this was a blessing, despite the loss of the business relationship.
In the former case, I’m still percolating. Not sure there is anything to do. The situation stopped escalating, but not really resolved. I like a nice clean bow on things. I believe in nice clean bows! But I respect my brothers and sisters who don’t. So, I will let it just be, as is.
Just for discussion’s sake, let’s explore the differences between conversations, disagreement, conflict and conflict resolution.
Conversations: participants equally sharing their views – similar or different – showing respect for each other.
Disagreement: two opposing views expressed.
Conflict: a power struggle between two parties with opposing views.
Conflict resolution: a structured intervention designed to incorporate a basis of communication techniques that allow the situation to go back to a conversation.
Conflict is not a necessary component of life. It is inevitable, because there are always those who are invested in being right, ie: changing someone’s mind. It is not necessary, however.
The fullness of life is experienced when we have differing viewpoints expressed in rational and calm fashion. It might go something like this…
A: “I see this.”
B: “I see that.”
A: “Interesting. How do you see that?”
B: “I see it ……”
A: “Ok, I follow that (or maybe I don’t), but then how does that fit with ….?”
Super short, but it makes the point that the emphasis is on understanding the other’s point of view, not on proving yours nor making them prove theirs. Agreeing or disagreeing doesn’t even have to come into play when you are trying to understand someone else.
Oh…understanding? The key to better communication? Its also the key to a better life. Interesting.
I love you.