Have you ever said (to yourself or others) that “________(you insert name here) will never change.” Or, have you ever looked at your boss and thought, ‘he/she doesn’t like me much.” Or yet, you walk into a meeting with a coworkers already ‘prepared’ for the interaction.
If so, then you are in passive communication and are using one of the twelve blocks to effective listening. Listening is understanding the other person’s points of view while also letting them know that you care about them and what they have to say.. But we can block our listening, which can include:
- Comparing yourself to others, to see how you stack up or who may be suffering more
- Mind Reading, or knowing what the other person wants/needs and making assumptions
- Rehearsing, or practicing in your mind what you want to say
- Filtering, or listening to some things said and not others, perhaps waiting to hear what you want
- Judging, or making an assumption about the other person, or having a bias
- Dreaming, or being triggered by something said but only half-listening
- Identifying, or taking what the other person said and attributing it to a personal experience
- Advising, or giving your opinions/advice while ignoring the other person’s pain around the subject discussed
- Sparring, or debating so you are right; can include putting others down or arguments
- Being right, or pressing your side of the situation and point of view
- Derailing, or putting off discussing the topic at hand as it is too uncomfortable, which includes changing the subject, telling a funny joke or talking about the weather
- Placating, which means you go along with whatever the other(s) say to avoid a conflict or because you want to be liked or to please
Do any of these sound familiar? We all use them at one time or another but there may be ones we use frequently; I can think of generalizing (he/she will never change, or they will always do xxxxxx); mind reading (uh oh, xxx looks mad); or derailing (I don’t want to fight tonight so I’ll stay away for a few days). The blocks are actually defense mechanisms we use to protect ourselves in some way.
To be an effective communicator, go back and check yourself to see which of the blocks you may be guilty of using and how they may be preventing you from being clear on what you want done, or that may have resulted in a conflicted relationship. Once you’ve identified your blocks, now you can reframe and come up with solutions to change them. As a side note, it’s important to recognize that these blocks are used within ourselves and not just in our interactions with others (but that’s for another day).
Taking time to be in self-awareness of when, and how, you may be blocking your communications is the first step to understanding others and ensuring your changes, or your wants and desires, are heard and acted upon favorably. It will also increase your confidence and desire to interact with others more and create more favorable relationships which are essential to us all. As you’re reading this, is there a block that comes up?
“If what is communication is false, it can hardly be called communication” (Benjamin E. Mays)
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