“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ― George Bernard Shaw
Are you really good at maintaining a calm and positive mindset when your buttons are being pushed?
Let’s face it, everyone loses their cool sometimes. How do you communicate constructively when you are upset? Do you know what sets you off when you can usually deal productively with daily upsets?
It might be fatigue, the fact that you have changed the toilet paper roll for the millionth time, a microscopic amount of milk left in the milk container, or dirty dishes piled in the sink with food still in them. Maybe it’s quarreling siblings, your boss giving you more work than you can handle, or the car just blew its transmission! You probably can cope with a zillion small things that accumulate over time, until you reach a saturation point and want to scream.
So, how can you begin to communicate constructively, even when you’re already angry?
To begin with, always state what is going on inside your head when you’re upset. For example, let’s say that you have just gotten off the phone with a fraudulent telemarketer and you’re very angry. A colleague comes to your office door to tell you that an important shipment is behind schedule. You feel like this is the last straw. You really needed that shipment to arrive on time!
Instead of biting your colleague’s head off, tell them what you are feeling. “I am infuriated because I just got off the phone with a scam artist and what you are telling me is adding to my frustration.” It might take some practice to learn how to do this, but it is very effective. Your colleague won’t take your anger personally. In fact, they might end up doing something nice like getting you a cup of coffee in an effort to put a smile on your face.
Maybe you are frustrated because you have assigned certain tasks to get done on a project and they are behind schedule. You are upset because this job has a specific deadline. Before lashing out at your team, try a different approach. Walk in their shoes. After all, what is communication? It is also the art of listening.
You may be astonished to find out one of your colleagues just found out their child has cancer and is overwhelmed. Another colleague may be dealing with the death of a parent.
Talk and listen. Bless the people you work with. Send them words of encouragement and love.
“Talking doesn\’t get your point across, but listening does.” ― Debasish Mridha
Here is another example that you may be able to relate to. Suppose your child was asked to clean the kitchen before you got home. He hasn’t done it and you get home after working a twelve-hour day. Talk to him and say, “Son, I am really tired and frustrated because I came home to a sink full of dishes. Can you tell me why you haven’t cleaned them?”
It doesn’t mean that they’ll get washed in the next five minutes, though! You are setting an example of how to communicate when tired and upset. Your children will emulate what you do. You are leading by example. Rome was not built in a day.
But the effort it takes to communicate constructively when you’re upset is well worth the long-term effects on everyone around you.
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