Isn’t it interesting how connected we are and yet how badly we often fail to communicate? Despite our iPhones, work groups, play dates, twitter feeds, message boards, snap chats… we mess up communication and relationships… constantly.
I’ve noticed that 80 percent of the unpleasant relational stuff I deal with on a day-to-day basis is linked in some way to poor or nonexistent communication. When I say “poor” communication I find that it is really lazy communication or the conversation that dies without being fully explored or clarified. Instead we make assumptions.
Why is it when we make assumptions, we often assume only the worst, most negative about the person or topic or scenario? Is it easier? Is it more fun? Is the drama worth the trouble?
I am amazed at how often children and adults will create “drama” out of thin air and it almost always begins with assuming the worst about someone else, whether it is deserved or not. I don’t understand that.
Maybe it really IS all about the drama, the gossip, the juicy rumor. Maybe truth and kindness is just boring. If this weren’t true, it seems we wouldn’t go down the negative path so quickly. Something needs to change in our day-to-day communication patterns.
I am challenging myself to think differently about communication this week. I want to do the following:
- Close open loops. If I am thinking about what someone said, or didn’t say and it’s bothering me, I am going to ask for clarification. Open loops lead to assumptions.
- Assume the best. If I assume anything I am going to try to assume the best instead of the worst. A colleague walks by me in the hall without a greeting… I will assume they are very busy rather than assume they are being a jerk.
- Ask questions. If I don’t understand something. I will ask. If I want something… I will ask. If I need something… I’ll ask. Worst that can happen is I’ll get a “no”.
- Restate what I hear. I think it’s a good practice to reiterate what you heard to clarify and eliminate misunderstandings.
- Avoid drama. Rumors and gossip must be avoided at all costs. Nothing good comes from these.
Communication is central to every relationship. Good communication leads to good and peaceful relationships, poor communication leads to broken and damaged relationships. We can each decide to take steps to be more clear and to understand better. Will you join me in giving it a shot? If you do, tell me in the comments how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.