5 posts categorized "Communication" Feed

Do these ten things to have better conversations

We all have arguments and disagreements. It seems to me in the past, we have decided to stop having uncomfortable conversations because they typically go wrong. Here are ten skills that you can start incorporating into difficult conversations right away. I believe they will help us all have better difficult conversations.

  1. Seek to understand the other person's emotions (and your own). For as much as emotions infiltrate our actions and conversations, it amazes me how little attention we give them. When you can begin to understand your emotions and the other person's emotions, you can respond to them. This allows your response to be more complete. It gives you a better opportunity to answer them holistically.
  2. Talk about what you believe. So often, we want to talk about why the other person is wrong, rather than talk about what we believe. Focus on what you believe in the conversation. Talk about why you believe it. Don't get stuck in a battle nit-picking points of disagreement. If you are talking about what you believe and striving to understand what the other person believes your conversations will improve. In this situation, you can search for areas of agreement rather than focusing on disagreements.
  3. Measure the cost; Do you value relationships or being right more? What is more important to you? Being right or the relationship. Most of the time, I believe we should seek to solve whatever the problem(s) are and protect the relationship. There are times, where we have to be willing to risk the relationship and there are relationships that we probably should end, but the majority of our disagreements will be with people who we want to stay in relationship with.  Therefore we have to measure the cost and the potential cost of what we are doing. Sometimes, it is good to walk away. Sometimes, it is good to dig in. Wisdom is needed in such situations.
  4. Seek points of agreement. As mentioned in skill number 2, we should seek points of agreement.  So often we agree with a person on a majority of issues, but we focus on the minority of disagreements we have with a person. To have intimacy we must fight against our cultural propensity for all or nothing thinking.  If everyone agrees on everything, someone isn't needed. Perhaps, it is in our disagreements, that we can find true intimacy. TelemedicineCover3
  5. Avoid using inflammatory words. I would think this would be obvious, but it isn't. There is never a reason to be unkind. There is never a reason to be mean. We don't have to use words that are attacking to discuss and debate our ideas. So many times, we use words that we know are designed to hurt or fan the flames of anger. To be good communicators we must resist this temptation.
  6. Understand there is a difference between hurtful and harmful words. Sometimes, we need to hear words that are hurtful but we should always attempt to avoid harmful words. Telling someone that they are engaging in an activity that needs to change can be hurtful. Attacking who someone's being is harmful. I once was talking with a woman who had been dating a man for about eight years. Her complaint was his lack of ambition and maturity. When I asked her if she ever told him about her concerns, she emphatically said no. She didn't want to hurt his feelings. But without risking hurting his feelings, how would he ever become aware of her frustrations? Most likely, in unhealthy ways.
  7. Be willing to be wrong. Again, this one seems fairly obvious to me.  Be willing, no be ok with being wrong. How else will we ever grow in our understanding of things if we are not willing and comfortable with being wrong? How do you make changes without first admitting you were wrong?
  8. Look at the bigger picture. So many people are willing to fight over things that they don't even remember a short time after the fight. We need to be people that see the bigger picture. Who do you want to be? If you're standing over the other person's grave or facing your own does the argument you're having matter? If not, why does it matter now?
  9. Expect all emotions in the conversation to run amok. Just plan on it. Emotions are like plastic bags caught in the wind, they often float to and fro throughout numerous conversations.
  10. Verify your information. Please make sure the information your sharing is accurate. I know this is both frustrating and hard in today's world. So much conflicting information out there and figuring out who we can trust is incredibly hard but it must be done. 

If you'd like to hear the podcast version of this, feel free to search The Joe Martino Show in your favorite podcast player

Square or Circle: Finding Peace in a world that can feel out of control

Have you ever been frustrated with someone doing something that you didn't want them to do?

Have you ever searched every crevice of your brain to try and figure out a way to say something to someone so that they wouldn't act in a certain way toward you?

Maybe you wanted to understand how to talk to them so they wouldn't get mad. Circle square illustrated
Maybe you wanted your teenage son to understand the importance of taking his dirty dishes out of his room.

Maybe you wanted your parents to understand how they hurt you.

Whatever it is, if it didn't work, I'm guessing, you were frustrated. I want to share with you something that may help alleviate that frustration. 

Find a piece of paper.

Draw a stick figure. This stick figure is you.
Now, draw a circle around the stick figure and a square around the circle.

Your drawing should look something like the picture embedded in this post.

Now, consider this: Everything on the square happens to you, but you have little to no control over it. When your partner does something you don't like, that's on your square. If you try to have a conversation with them about your sex life and they start to yell and get mad? That's on your square and their circle.  You're not responsible for how they act or react; they are.

That's the good news.

How you act is on your circle. You are 100% responsible for how you act.

Most of the time, when you try to control something on someone else's circle (your square), you are manipulating.

This is often a great source of emotional frustration and angst for people. I will often ask clients, "Circle or Square?" when they are talking about a frustration.  The question is designed to get them to explore what they control or are trying to control.

Too often, people will be at one end of two extremes.

The first end is, "I must be doing it wrong, because my husband always gets mad no matter what I do or how I say it." The opposite end is "What my husband is doing is wrong therefore I have an excuse for my poor behavior."

Both extremes are wrong.

Simply because your spouse feels angry with you or reacts poorly to something you've done does not mean that you've done anything wrong. Yes, you can and should examine how you approached the issue. You can even ask them how you might have said whatever it was you wanted to communicate in a way that they would not have been upset/angry, etc over. 

But there reaction is 100% on their circle (they control it) and 100% on your square (you are not in control of it).

Conversely, if your spouse is engaging in poor behavior, that's on their circle (they're control) and your square (not your control.

Your reaction is still on your circle and their poor behavior does not ever excuse your own poor behavior.

I am always amazed at people who would never accept, "Well, they did it first" from their children and use the same excuse for why they treat their spouse poorly.

A natural question is what about feelings?

Feelings live in the place between our circle and square. We don't often control their creation. They happen faster than we can process.

But we absolutely control what we do with those emotions and feelings. We control what do after those feelings are created.   Simply because we're mad, doesn't mean we have to yell or be mean. We control our actions and what we do.

So the next time you are frustrated or angry, ask yourself if you're trying to control something that's on your square or circle.

If it's out on the square, you're probably going to be stuck for as long as you try to control it.

So much of our energy is spent trying to control things we do not and cannot control that we fail to utilize the energy we do have to control our own lives.

If we want to find true satisfaction, we will have to start with controlling the things we control and accepting the fact that we don't control everything. Energy spent trying to control things we can't control is energy wasted.  Energy wasted will not move us toward peace.

Find some time today, make your lists. Examine what's going on in your life. What do you control? What don't you control?






VLOG #4. Three Steps to Problem Solving

Here is my fourth YouTube offering. Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 10.57.26 AM

In this video, I explore the three steps for problem solving. So many couples get into trouble in their conversation because they end up trying to go directly to step #3. Watch the video below and let me know what you think. Thanks.



VLOG #3. What lens are you using?

Recently a friend of mine had a firestorm of conversation erupt on a post she made on social media. Few of the contributors stopped to consider what lens they were using to understand the post and how that was impacting their statements.
While there were many words, there was little communication.

Watch this video to learn a tool that will help you to avoid the trap of many words and little communication.  Understanding what is going on in your own brain and emotions will help you be a better communicator.