Thursday, July 8, 2010
Ouch! It hurt when I pushed you!
Let's talk. . . .
Typically I'm a pretty good communicator when it comes to relationships. I'm not blowing my own horn here, I've had several partners over the years tell me that my communication levels are very high or that they have experienced a level of communication with me they have never had with anyone before. I'm telling you this simply to set the context for the remainder of the article.
When communicating I try to be very deliberate. My word choice is considered ahead of time. Location and timing are important. Anticipating questions and being prepared with answers is part of my process. Preparation for a variety of moods and responses by the other person is contemplated. I try to be very thorough and consider all possibilities and perspectives. I like to be an informed and prepared conversationalist.
All of that is likely the exact reason that when I am ready to have a conversation I need it to happen. Someone telling me they need time to think or aren't prepared to have a conversation at that moment is very, very difficult for me to accept. Often I will find myself pushing for the conversation despite their desire to talk later. I have to consciously be aware that I do that and stop when I realize it is happening.
But I realize all of the above is also a shortcoming of sorts. Taking a look from the opposite perspective, I don’t do so well sometimes. In other words, when the prepared conversationalist approaches me cold and I'm not ready for the conversation, I don't do so well. I either respond badly or end up asking if we can have the conversation later when I am prepared. Something which I know is frustrating for them.
Yet another scenario is the "What's bugging you" situation. As I am preparing to communicate with someone I tend to withdraw slightly. When they notice the withdrawal is usually when there is a problem. The person will often start probing to find out what is happening. Perfectly natural since they are concerned and don't know what is going on. And sometimes the other person won't accept a response of "Let's talk later". They push and probe and being unprepared I often respond with a poor choice of words in a rather blunt manner. This situation is not conducive to productive communication in my opinion and the other person often ends up feeling hurt. Funny since they pushed for the information but sad in the overall scheme of things.
What I'm getting at is this; some people can respond to a topic immediately and well. Some people respond to a topic immediately but poorly. And some people like a bit of time to prepare so they can communicate effectively. Although it may be difficult to let a conversation sit for a while, or tempting to respond to someone who is responding badly to you, effective communication is largely about recognizing the communication needs of the other person. If you can do that your conversations will go much better and involve a more intelligent exchange of ideas and opinions.
What other things have you noticed about communication? What communication tools do you use? What do you think leads to communication failure?