Don’t Get Your Wires Crossed – Part 2 (4/29/22)

As I wrote last week in Part 1 (below) getting our communication wires crossed can lead to misunderstandings, anger, frustration, resentment, low morale, less productive days at work and at home, and physical ailments related to increased stress levels. And it doesn’t have to be that way. For more effective and productive conversations, these strategies can work for you!

1.   No one is a mind reader, so don’t expect others to know what you want, what you need or what’s important to you – unless you let them know – with your words.

2.   Don’t be in such a hurry that you talk before you think. Don’t react emotionally before you take time to reflect logically on the best way to handle  a conversation. Don’t make demands. Talk rationally about what you need or want to happen.

3.   Get your anger under control. Some people think that being “brutally honest” can “clear the air.” Brutal is defined as cruel, mean, harsh, callous, merciless and unkind – not effective (or kind) ways to get your point across.

4.   Don’t exaggerate. Avoid phrases like “You always…” and “You never…” When you do, your listener immediately begins thinking, “Well, I don’t always do that.” Once they get defensive, they stop listening. You’ve lost them – and you’ve also lost credibility that’s often difficult to recover.

5.   Choose your words carefully. Once you’ve said them you can’t take them back. Even if you apologize, hurtful words can cause damage. “Forgive and forget” is a nice idea, but it can be a difficult one to practice. While we can choose to forgive someone who’s caused us pain by their hurtful words, it’s still hard to forget. Think about that before you speak.

6.   Don’t spend so much time telling that you leave no time for listening. This means that when the other person is talking you’re actively listening instead of thinking ahead to what you will say when it’s your turn. If you do, don’t be surprised when an exasperated friend, coworker or family member sighs and asks, “Were you even listening? Didn’t you hear a word I said?”

7.   Give the other person time to absorb and process what you’ve said.

8.   Clarify what the other person said by rephrasing what you heard.

9.    “Listen with your eyes” for body language and facial expression while you listen with your ears for the words and tone of voice.

Life today is filled with challenges, obstacles and problems – many of which are out of your control. But the choice to communicate openly, honestly and fairly is totally within your control. With practice, you can make sure you never get your communication wires crossed again!


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