Communication is key to successful relationships, and talking is one of our primary forms. I have had to learn how to communicate appropriately and effectively. I somehow missed Communication 101 along the way. But, over the years, and mainly because I've screwed up sooooo many times, I've learned a few things. I didn't magically acquire these gems; they've been passed along by caring friends. No doubt, you'll recognize yourselves. ;) In addition to the tips on communication, there is a very important message about fashion. Read on:
Every communication involves three parts: the sender, the receiver, and the message itself. Since the sender and receiver are both human beings (in this instance, anyway), and since human beings come with baggage that colors perception (whether we like it or not), mis-communication is guaranteed.
Here are some handy-dandy tips to smooth out the rocky road of communication:
- It's cliché, but you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen more than you talk. And when you listen, look the receiver in the eyes. Well-endowed women, especially, appreciate this. I know whereof I speak.
- "No" is a complete sentence. It's unnecessary to explain, justify or expound. Many times I've gone into a long discourse in order to validate my "no" (which may, or may not, have involved a white lie...or two) and convince the receiver that my "no" was legitimate. I look like a babbling idiot. "Wanna go with me to buy this cute little plaid pants and striped shirt outfit I found the other day?" Trust me, "no" by itself, is sufficient.
- If I say something more than once, it's nagging. Saying the same thing fifteen different ways doesn't work. It's like trying to teach a pig to sing. It frustrates you and annoys the hell outta the pig. And "once" doesn't mean once an hour or once a day. It means one time. Period. This goes hand-in-hand with numbers 4 and 5.
- If I need to make a point, I try (as in: give it my best shot, with maybe a 50% success rate) to impart my "wisdom" or request in 10 words or less. Tricky proposition, fo sho, but worth the effort. The actual number of words is not the issue. Make your point as clearly and concisely as possible. "I statements" are also a good idea, as in "I'd prefer that you not mix stripes and plaid when we are together in public." OK....maybe 15 words. The stripes and plaid mix is a real no-no. As in two complete sentences! (see #2)
- Another frequent flier: Pick your battles. One way I do this is to ask myself two questions: How important is it? Would I rather be right or happy? I invariably choose happy. Trust me, it is a choice.
- Avoid superlatives like "always" and "never" especially when paired with "you." Both are hackle-raisers and put the receiver on the defensive. (It pisses you off, right?) You always wear that godawful outfit. Always? Really? 24/7 every day of your life? Nope.
- Phrases that will end a stalemate or thwart unsolicited advice: You may be right, I could be wrong, and I don't know. These are golden -- really! "You would look so pretty if you put that striped shirt with the plaid pants." You may be right (but don't you dare do it!). It ends the I'm right/you're wrong merry-go-round in a timely but non-combative manner.
- Almost every decision can be postponed 24 hours. There's no need to lay down the law in the heat of the moment. Unless, of course, someone is bleeding profusely. Or if bad fashion sense is involved.
- Stay in the present moment and within the present discussion.....not two years, three months, and five days ago, when he/she wore that hideous plaid/stripes ensemble...in public.
- Always communicate from a place of kindness, compassion and understanding in your words, tone, and body language. Tone and body language speak volumes. Make sure your words match your unspoken messages. Telling someone you love their plaid/stripes combo while covering your eyes and holding a cross in front of you is definitely sending a mixed message. Which one would you trust? 'Nuf said.
Have you had communication issues? Do you find that messages (sent and received) are often misunderstood? Have you needed some handy-dandy tools?
Have you been there?