Many common communication styles tend to create alienation and distance, taking us even further from where we would like to be. This is true in personal relationships, as well as at work. It is interesting to consider how often political leaders resort to these tactics, thus contributing our dysfunctional and polarized political climate.
Score each of the following styles using the following scale:
0 = Never use this style 1 = Rarely use this style
2 = Occasionally use this style
3 = Frequently use this style
These are more overtly dominating and controlling styles:
That’s a totally irresponsible statement.
You’re a weak coward and a fool.
Clearly there is something fundamentally wrong with you.
That is not how you really feel.
This is all your fault.
Your eyes never left him once during dinner.
This is your last chance.
Only a man/woman would come to that conclusion.
I don’t care whether you are ready to listen or not.
Don’t walk away until I’m finished.
That’s your idea of dressing for success?
That approach will get you nowhere.
Why don’t you learn to stand up to her?
Do I always have to remind you to take a shower?
Well, look who has finally graced us with her/his presence.
What you’re really feeling is that you’re and I’m ____.
Overpowering by screaming, exploding, intimidating.
Talking over the other person. Telling them to be quiet.
Maybe I did that, but what you did was so much worse.
And while I am thinking about it, that is not all you did.
These styles are not as overtly aggressive, but have the potential to be equally destructive:
Someone who actually cared about me would have done better.
I do all the dirty work around here and never get any help.
Why does this always happen? I am so tired of this.
That’s not what I said.
No, nothing is wrong. Everything is just fine.
Just once I wish things would go my way. We always do what you want.
Will you tell me what’s so terrible about wanting to have a little fun?
I know I said I’d do it and when I get the time, I will.
You’re right. If I had any sense, I’d have quit.
PLAYING the MARTYR
It doesn’t matter. I’ll get over it. I can take the heat. I always do.
I just can’t get anything right.
If I felt better, I’d be out there shoveling too.
Can we talk about something else now? Anything special on TV tonight?
I would never treat you that way.
I handled it last time and the time before that.
I meant to invite you along, but the line was busy. I did try, honest.
There is no reason to get upset. Just stay calm.
You don’t really mean that now, do you?
Silence, pouting, ignoring, walking away, stone-walling.
No, that never happened. You are imagining it.
When you are done, ask your partner or another close associate to review your self-assessment and give you honest feedback. Only do this if you are willing to listen. Keep in mind that your intentions do not always translate accurately into impact on others. If your desire is to become a more effective communicator, learning about your impact on others from people who are willing to reflect back to you in a candid way is invaluable.