Effective communication is the key to everything. To business, to relationships, to peace. However people often have some dysfunctional ways of thinking about the subject. Let’s take a look at these and see if any apply.
1. There is no such thing as just one solution!
Encourage people to always get at least a 2nd (qualified) opinion, whatever the situation is, especially when there are doubts. There are more equally effective ways up the same mountain than just one. Seriously, if you reach the summit and find that someone else climbed up a different way, would you shove them off the mountain top for not doing it the “right” way? Of course not! You’d probably share a celebratory drink and take in the view together. Wisdom is found in the midst of a multitude of views. Holding that kind of outlook has served me far better than most. It applies to anything in life, health or business.
2. It’s OK for someone else to be the expert.
No human is infinite enough to contain all the knowledge of a single subject, much less of the universe. We should celebrate that wonder and make use of individual expertise by adding the insight and value of others to our lives and teams. Just because I can doesn’t mean I should or that it’s in my (or anyone else’s) best interest. Not being an expert in something is not a negative reflection on us. I’m thankful for the experts in my life. I can not possibly hold that much information in this one physical and finite body. I’m an expert in crochet. I can be that. Thank God someone else can be an expert in car repair and plumbing for me! And I’m no less a person for it.
For an expansion on this idea, check out Derek Sivers’ video “Hell Yeah Or No.”
3. Confrontation is not a dirty word.
Communication is essential to mediation. As someone who tends to communicate fairly well, others often come to me with their frustrations in dealing with someone else. Many times they hope I will intercede for them. I listen, but often followup with, “OK, you’ve hashed out your concerns with me, but have you gone to the source? Have you talked to that teacher/volunteer/manager/parent/business/peer that you have a suggestion/concern/issue with? Because they can’t do anything about what they don’t know.” All too often, people avoid confrontation, so nothing is ever addressed. When you feel helpless, the last thing you should do is give up. Avoiding the person or issue will not often resolve anything.
4. Emotional Reality and Factual Reality Are Not The Same.
When you’re having trouble seeing things straight, it is also important to keep in mind that although emotional reality is real and it does give us valuable information, that emotional reality and factual reality are not generally the same. Making decisions based solely on feelings is not a balanced place to operate from. Many emotions are caused by triggers. And triggers can be very individual and personal. What triggers you and what triggers me is not necessarily going to be similar. Your feelings might be real, but they may have nothing to do with the actual situation at hand. As hard as it may be, sometimes you have to step outside of that emotional reality with logical mindful intent.
What other dysfunctional attitudes about communication can you think of?
Think about it and share your thoughts in the comments.