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If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Conversation Killers

Credit to who deserves it. This title and the inspiration for this post stem from Roger Connors and Tom Smith in How Did That Happen? (2009). On page 140 they talk about conversation killers as related to acting accountable and holding others accountable. My list of conversation killers applies to many communication situations, including but not limited to the ones on accountability.

I know you will recognize many of these ‘killers’, I am not really telling you anything new. The question, however, is:  Will you recognize them as killers you use?  Taking it a step further, will you not only recognize them but invest in learning to avoid them, which, of course, requires that you understand why you use those killers in the first place? What purpose do they serve you? Is it a good purpose, a good cause, and do you just need to seek different ways to accomplish your goals, or is it wise to adjust your purpose and objectives all together? Questions only you can answer, so let me stick to listing some of the main conversation killers.
1.       Confusing assertive communication, where you honor both parties and their rights and feelings, with aggressive communication, where you overrule and violate the other person, whether knowingly and willingly or not.

2.       Throwing statements, conclusions, and judgments across the table rather than asking questions and listening to what is being said in words and through non-verbal behavior.

3.       Which takes me to: Implying things indirectly rather than stating them openly and directly, and even more of a killer: Denying insinuations and allegations that are clearly implied by what you say, how you say it, or what you neglect to say and do.

4.       Finger pointing, blaming, and accusing rather than exploring each person’s perspective and role in the total situation.

5.       Preparing your come-back or rebuttal while losing sight of what is being said and meant right here and now as a result of not listening.

6.       Confusing someone’s ‘no’ or the communication of boundaries with the person attacking you and your character.

7.       The bad old “always” and “never”, often used between arguing partners and in conversations between parents and their children.  These words not only rarely apply to situations, they also block any real conversation because they push the other person into ‘defense-mode’ to prove that your exaggerations are unwarranted.

8.       Confusing your own subjective and inherently limited reality with the one-and-only reality, closing the door to the world of multiple perspectives and realities.

9.       Getting stuck on details when the bigger picture is what matters, or, focusing on the big picture when details are in the way of getting to that larger place.

Again, the value of this post is not in the new insights. There are none in this article. Everything has been discovered, said, and explained before. The value lies in becoming aware of and exploring your own communication skills and killers, in understanding their dynamics, and in finding ways to avoid them.

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