≡ Menu

The Dance of Effective Communication

34 Flares 34 Flares ×

A couple friends shared a graphic in Facebook groups about communication within families.

I ignored it initially, simply uninspired.

But then, my friend Pamela Price (of Red, White and Grew) tagged me in the discussion about the graphic and later noted “I’d love to see a post on how to create an authentic framework tailored to one’s child. I like to think that parents are capable of being empowered to customize speech for their kids.”

Well, I can’t ignore a comment like that!

The graphic, published by TEACH through Love, shows two columns of sentence possibilities called “disconnecting” and “connecting.”

TEACH through Love image

I agree that the list in the left column is unacceptable. And I agree that the list in the right column is… better. However, there’s a lot more that can be done here when it comes to empathic and effective communication.

For me, it’s not about the search for the perfect words, because you can’t guarantee what will be connecting and what won’t. I’m pretty sensitive, and would likely be triggered and upset by a lot of what is intended to be connecting in this chart.

For example, the supposedly connecting words, “I’ve noticed you’re having more and more trouble controlling your reactions”, to my sensitivity, sounds more like judgment than observation.

What would a video camera capture? That is observation.

Moreover, statements like “What’s gotten into you lately?” and “You don’t seem like yourself” both have implied judgments and can contribute to connection or disconnection, depending on the quality of the relationship and the stance and intention of the speaker.

Since people often like (and share) concrete examples found in charts, I extended what I saw to include some additional possibilities in the far right column.

Empathic & Effective WordsIt’s good to have a lot of moves available in the dance of effective communication.

As Pamela noted, “It’s the difference between fast food and a really fine, carefully prepared and nutritious meal. Yeah, you might survive on the first, but you also might feel zapped.”

I love communication with authentic zings that doesn’t zap. I have heard that there are many of these two-column type tables out there, and I want to help people improvise on their feet instead of writing a bunch of third-columns.

And in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you think about my additions to the chart.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Jade November 18, 2014, 5:57 pm

    Thank you for extending this chart, Bob. In some ways it’s useful to see that middle ground between disconnecting and empathic words. It’s a little like a road map of effective communication development. I want to say to those using the chart’s connecting words, “You’re almost there! Now try this and see how you feel!”

    I do hope that would be taken in as effective/empathic because that’s how I mean it!

    • byamtich November 18, 2014, 7:27 pm

      Thanks Jade! I take your comment as effective and empathic, but also as encouraging. I think families want to take risks on something working. It can be discouraging to have commonly known “best practices” not reach somebody, and I want to work with people to take risks on personalizing and extending what the best practice is for them.

  • Zaka November 19, 2014, 6:59 am

    Or as my youngest said today, “I’m mad because you don’t understand how to talk to me. It’s not that hard if you would try to be me and not you”

    • byamtich November 19, 2014, 7:03 am

      The youngling understands the ease of empathy, it appears. With biting feedback! At least it is clear.

  • Martha November 21, 2014, 3:17 pm

    Thank you for your third column. I think your language is particularly useful to help the recipient see what others see (eyes rolling) their emotions. I like the idea of “joy together” which helps set a tone of co-creation rather than coercive family time. Thanks!

    • byamtich November 21, 2014, 5:04 pm

      I’m glad the third column was useful! Identifying needs and values, even separate from a prediction of what can be accomplished in any given moment, can definitely set a tone of co-creation and possibility.

  • Pamela @RedWhiteandGrew November 21, 2014, 4:07 pm

    Love this, Bob. It occurs to me that it’s a great way to talk with people of ALL ages. Well done.

    • byamtich November 21, 2014, 5:15 pm

      I agree that all ages can benefit from this work. I think communication is more likely to be fine-tuned within a family system because of the sustained commitment to warmth, harmony, and often living under the same roof. In other situations, if something is subtly amiss, one or both parties may just quit trying and flow like a mountain stream towards easier and more fulfilling connections.

  • Caitie November 23, 2014, 9:34 pm

    I love the list expansion. Words are so important.

  • Lyndy November 26, 2014, 5:30 pm

    I’ve always liked the graphics Teach through Love put out, I like the way they classify their responses (observation, judgement). I love what you have added, you’ve really personalized the response and that makes how I could respond clearer in my mind. So thank you for that. 🙂

Leave a Comment

34 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 34 Pin It Share 0 34 Flares ×