The only things that keep you from having clear conversations are your beliefs – but not just any beliefs. Below are 5 of the most common beliefs that can prevent you from having communication that feels fulfilling and honest.
How many of them do you tend to believe?
Communication Barrier # 1: "I'm right. You're wrong."
Ouch. This is one the most rigid situations you can have when you're communicating. It leaves no room for understanding or appreciation for the other person's experience. Not to mention that it can leave
you feeling very defensive. It's all about winning and losing when you're attached to this story.
Try this: Instead of focusing on who's right and who's wrong, get in touch with how much you care about the person you're talking with. Notice how they're trying to share something with you that's
important to them. They may even be passionate about it. What would you be able to appreciate about that person (and what was being said) if you did not believe they were wrong?
Communication Barrier # 2: "I need you to like me."
When this belief is part of your core operating system, you'll usually find yourself on one of two extremes: super talkative or super quiet. In either case, you wind up trying to be a chameleon – changing yourself into what you think the other person would like. And yet your partner does not even get a chance to like you because they only see who you're trying to be.
Try this: Start noticing the moments when you're trying to manipulate how another person sees you. Become aware of the things you do or say. Notice how you move your body when you believe that
you need them to like you.
Gather that information about yourself, then the next time you interact with someone, you can watch for those signals that you're assuming you need that person to like you. Who would you be without that assumption?
Communication Barrier # 3: "I need you to understand me."
If you believe this thought, you probably do a lot of interrupting, explaining, and justifying. Why? Because you're looking for specific proof that the other person "gets" what you're saying. Once you say something to another person, it's not yours anymore. It's theirs. So having an attachment to what the other person does
with your sharing can hurt.
This thought can also keep you from being able to listen fully because you're so busy trying to get your point across. Everyone wants to be heard, but not everyone is willing to stop talking so that they can listen. Will you be the one?
Try this: For at least a day, do not interrupt anyone – even in your mind. Wait to speak until the other person has completely finished her train of thought and there's some silence. Breathe into the silence.
Notice what it's like to live without the urgency of having something important to say. And if the other person does not seem to understand you … can you be okay with that?
Communication Barrier # 4: "When you said that, you really mean …"
Making assumptions about what other people are saying can be exhausting and can lead to some serious misunderstandings. The kids could say, "I do not like this soup," and as a parent you might tell yourself that it means that they are ungrateful for all the hard work that went into the soup.
All they've stated is the truth – they do not like it. What does that have to do with you? One of the most common meanings we give to things other people say is that it means something about us. Who
would you be if you were not taking things personally?
Try this: Instead of assuming what the other person means, or that it's about you, go out on a limit and ask them. Get more information to base your conclusions on. Ask questions. Listen literally to what they're saying and really learn from them.
You can even make it a game – how many times can they prove you wrong about your assumptions? Ask them for clarification and find out. 🙂
Communication Barrier # 5: "You should not have said that."
You can wind up in some serious pain if you're believing this thought in a conversation. It does not matter if they're saying something about you, about someone else, or if they're sharing ideas with you that you do not like.
If you're rejecting what they've said, it's like you've boarded up the windows, locked all the doors, and put a "Go away!" sign on the front door. When you're not receptive to what's being said, both of you can wind up feeling hurt and disconnected.
Try this: Instead of trying to erase what's been said, use their words as a tool for deeper understanding. Really be present with what's been said and notice your reactions to it. Does it upset you? Does it leave a question in your mind? Does it worry you? Consider being honest and sharing your experience.