Critical Communication Styles and Results

So unique you areBy Barbara Rose, PhD

The Questions

1. If I’m upset with someone, what is the best way to communicate?
2. What is the best thing to say if someone tries to push my buttons?


3. How can I break an old cycle of negative communication and replace it with a positive one with the same person?

4. What does my communication style have to do with my ability to relate in a healthy way?

5. Where does the line cross from communication to a power play between two people, and how can I change the dynamic of power plays?

THE ANSWERS

1. If I’m upset with someone, what is the best way to communicate?

The best and only way to communicate is to state how you feel and why. If the other person is giving you a hard time, simply state what you are observing. You can notice that you are upset with someone, and you can notice that you aren’t entirely pleased with the other person. At the same time, consider the other person’s feelings before you lash out.

It is vital for you to share, rather than attack. It is crucial that you learn how to simply state what you prefer, rather than lash out, scream, insult or put the other person down.

Many people do this, and they would never do this with a stranger they truly admire and respect. So it comes down to self observation, awareness, and to begin to treat the other person exactly as you would a dear friend for whom you have the utmost respect. You can speak graciously and state your truth kindly. Communicate with kindness, because this will always build a bridge of understanding between both of you, rather than create a war.


2. What is the best thing to say if someone tries to push my buttons?

Ask them what kind of reaction they are looking for! In other words, rather than go into “auto-react” mode, go into “observation” mode. When someone knows there are no longer buttons to push, they essentially will realize that they can also grow and evolve by expressing their needs, preferences, fears or anything that is bothering them rather than try to push your buttons to get a reaction out of you.

This will greatly help both of you evolve to a much more authentic level of communication that creates safety, and genuine understanding.


3. How can I break an old cycle of negative communication and replace it with a positive one with the same person?

All you need to do is to react in a new, healthy way with the same person. If you used to lash out, attack, go into silent mode, withdraw, or degrade, simply notice how you feel. Then, with a great measure of self awareness, you can choose how you speak to the other person. Your reactions are solely and completely within your control and no one else’s. No one can “make” you upset, or scream, or say rude, insulting things. Every word that comes out of your mouth is entirely within your control and no one else’s.

Begin your sentences with the letter “I”. For example: “I know you know how to communicate better than that.” Or, “I’m not so clear about what you mean, and I’d really like to understand. Can you please let me know how you feel?” Or, “I understand how you feel, I’ve felt the same way many times before.”

In other words, you are relating to the other person, rather than having an ego contest. If you speak honestly and authentically, just like you would to your dearest and best friend, then a lot of the confusion will melt away. If you engage in new understanding, rather than old drama, that is exactly what you will create – new understanding! This feels much better than negative drama that gets both people nowhere. OBSERVE what is about to fly out of your mouth, and ask yourself if you would appreciate it if the other person said the same thing to you, BEFORE you say whatever you are about to say. This will greatly help you to catch the old pattern, and replace it with authentic communication that is REAL. This is what creates genuine understanding between people, and every person sincerely loves to be understood.


4. What does my communication style have to do with my ability to relate in a healthy way?

Just about everything. If you are judgmental, your communication will be harsh and critical. If you are compassionate, your communication will be filled with a lot of understanding.

If you are a manipulator, what you say will be motivated by an ulterior motive and completely lack sincerity – people are not stupid, they pick up on this.

If you are heart-centered, what you express will be shared with care for the other person’s feelings.

If you are insecure, you will put the other person down just to puff yourself up.

If you are growing, you will express how you feel, when you feel it, and everything you say will match everything you are genuinely thinking and feeling.

If you are relating in a healthy way, then only pure truth, spoken with care and sincerity will be what you express. What you will receive in return is heart-centered, clear, honest and genuine communication. This is the foundation of healthy relating with anyone.


5. Where does the line cross from communication to a power play between two people, and how can I change the dynamic of power plays?

Authentic communication is sincere, and the other person picks up on the sincerity. A power play is completely motivated by ego, and the communication has an ulterior motive. Maybe someone feels insecure, and rather than state that they feel uneasy, or insecure, they might try to test the other person by saying something to get a reaction out of them. This typically leads to unnecessary conflict, and never creates understanding.

Power plays are typically motivated by old fears that have not yet been resolved inside. The ONLY way to change a power play is to become consciously aware of what you may feel afraid of. Remember, you cannot change another person, only yourself. It is your personal responsibility to become aware of what your deepest fears are with respect to relating to another person, and heal that fear. You can speak about your fear, and this will immediately disengage a power play.

Many people don’t feel comfortable showing or sharing that they feel afraid, no matter what that fear is about with respect to a relationship – that being relating to another person on a deeply personal, intimate level, even if there is not physical romance involved. The greatest thing you can do is ADMIT any fear that you have, so that its expression is brought out into the open, rather than hidden beneath a power play.

To change the dynamic of a power play, notice if you sense the other person is trying to pull a power play with you, and simply reflect back to them what they said, kindly and graciously. Then ask him or her to please explain what their motive is behind what they are asking rather than “react” back. You can even ask the other person what kind of reaction they are looking for from you. This immediately stops the power game and brings truth up to the surface.

In all cases what you are ultimately creating is trust, honesty, reliability, authenticity and healthy reciprocity with all of your communication, especially with people that you care a lot about. This, like anything else in life, takes conscious effort. It requires you to become consciously aware of what you are feeling, thinking, and then what you are stating.

If you make pure honesty your rule of thumb, always and under all circumstances, the need for any sort of power play will vanish. You will feel much more secure inside, because you had the courage to share what you feel. Remember to never judge your feelings – they are all valid. One feeling is not better or worse, weaker or stronger than another. If you simply state or express exactly what is going on inside of you, what you will come to find is that the rest of the human race also experiences similar feelings from time to time. You will realize that you can relate honestly. You can create understanding, and you can share in the healthiest manner. Each time you do, you are gaining authentic inner strength that is based on truth, rather than ego.

You are becoming an example for yourself, and creating a safe and trusting atmosphere for the other person at the same time to know that he or she can always say how they feel. Under all circumstances remember to notice how you feel before you speak. If you feel upset, say that you feel upset, rather than attack. If you need someone to listen, state your preference. Replace rude communication with authentic sharing. If you have a genuine question, ask it! If you care, say it! Remember that every member of the human race wants to be accepted and understood. If you begin with learning how to FULLY accept and understand YOURSELF, you will be much better able to do this with the other person. Then, all of your communication will be genuine, based on pure truth and authenticity. The dynamics between you will reflect this. The pure foundation of a trusted relationship will be built, and as long as anything is built on truth with pure motives, only the best of the best will come out of it for you, the other person, and perhaps for many others as a result.

© Copyright 2012 by Barbara Rose, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.

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