Diversity of Communication
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
Have you ever had a miscommunication with a family member, friend, wife, husband, co-worker, or someone else? Chances are, you have. It’s all too easy to get caught up in a miscommunication and make assumptions about the situation rather than talk it out and resolve it. For most of us, we’ll likely have multiple miscommunications throughout our lives not because we’re bad communicators, but rather because how we define and understand something is different from how someone else defines and understands it.
If we’re going to have miscommunications with others, what can we do about them? First of all, start off by assuming the other person has the best of intentions. Most of us aren’t malicious people out to hurt someone else, especially not those with whom we have close relationships. If those you are close to are malicious, it might be time to surround yourself with more positive people in your life or at least have better boundaries about when to interact with them.
Second, try listening to understand the other person and their point of view. There is always more than one side to any story. If you haven’t heard and understood the other person’s perspective, then you’re missing a big part of the story.
Third, enter into a dialogue with the other person from a frame of mind you can work it out. Intention is powerful, so intending to work it out and the desire to do so can be half the battle sometimes.
Fourth, during your conversation, it’s also important to ask the other person if they feel heard and understood. Communication isn’t always easy, especially when there are heated emotions involved, but depending on how much you care about the person or how much time you spend together, working through it can have major benefits.
Fifth, it’s okay to be uncomfortable. Once you have a miscommunication with another person, it’s important to realize that both of you will likely feel uncomfortable. Try not to dismiss the discomfort. The uncomfortable feeling isn’t a sign to ignore the communication that happened, but rather an unmistakable sign you need to acknowledge and handle the situation in a way that honors everyone involved so you can both learn and grow.
Remember, there is not one right way to communicate. It’s helpful to explore what works for you and to be aware so you can tune into the different ways of communicating that work best for those around you. Most of us would not communicate the same way with a small child as we would with our best friend or neighbor. Knowing this can give us insights into how we can better express ourselves and allow others to do the same.
If you can’t get to the point of having an honest and open conversation about the miscommunication that happened, this could be the time to focus on taking care of yourself.
Recently, I had a miscommunication with someone I spend a lot of time with. The other person had hurt feelings and never talked to me directly about it even though I apologized for my part and offered to talk through it.
During this experience I remembered how I can only control myself in terms of my thoughts, feelings, words, and actions, and it’s up to others to control these things for themselves. Being in control of our own thoughts, feelings, words, and actions is a point of power. What I mean by this is we’re always at choice to decide what we think, feel, say, and do.
By choosing what to think, feel, say, and do regarding the miscommunication I experienced recently, I get to focus my energy on what supports me and my goals in life.
In this case, my goal is to not harbor any negativity, resentment, or anything else from the experience, but rather to learn from it and move on as someone with improved communication skills.
If I chose a different path, I could harbor the resentment and negativity, but that would be giving my energy to that situation and staying stuck instead of focusing on my goals. To me, in effect, that would have been giving my power away. I prefer to take each experience, negative or positive, as an opportunity to learn, grow, and move onto something better that aligns with my goals in life.
Beating yourself up over something that happened is not kind or loving to yourself. Think of the advice you’d give to a best friend who had a miscommunication with her wife, husband, girlfriend, or boyfriend. Be that same kind, loving person to yourself. You deserve it!
What do you choose?