Teen Parenting Expert’s Tip of the Month – January

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Top 6 Ways to Inhibit Communication
By Barbara McRae, MCC

It’s been said that what you say is not nearly as important as how you make people feel. Others intuitively know whether you value or discount them. Below are the top six ways that inhibit meaningful communication with others (family, friends, coworkers or teenagers).

As you review this list, ask yourself, “To what extent do I inhibit or encourage communication?”

Communication is inhibited when you CONTROL:

Finish another’s sentences
Change the subject (diversion)

The negative message the receiver gets is:
“I can’t participate in the conversation.”

Communication is inhibited when you use a GUILT strategy:

Avoid authenticity (you’re in denial)
Distort emotions (you become the martyr)
Care only about yourself; you ignore the other person’s

The negative message the receiver gets is:
“I feel manipulated.”

Communication is inhibited when you become AMBIVALENT:

Give mixed messages
Ignore your feelings (passive)
Continue to do tasks while a person is speaking with you

The negative message the receiver gets is:
“You don’t care!”

Communication is inhibited when you MAKE others WRONG:

Refuse to take another’s point of view into account
Attacks, sarcasm, putdowns
Blames, use of condemning language

The negative message the receiver gets is:
“I feel judged.”

Communication is inhibited when you appear ALL KNOWING:

Have all the answers, lectures, advises
Make assumptions; defensive
Monopolizes the conversation (closed mind)

The negative message the receiver gets is:
“You’re not flexible.”

Communication is inhibited when you ACT SUPERIOR:

Ignore (disrespectful)
Belittle, criticize
Command, demand

The negative message the receiver gets is:
“You think you are better than me.”

These attempts to direct the talker limit the discovery of useful information and block understanding. Typically, this “I don’t care about you; I care about me” attitude surfaces when (1) the listener doesn’t want to hear what is being said or (2) disagrees with what is being presented.

This behavior breeds power struggles. It increases stress and undermines rapport and trust. Conversely, encouraging the talker creates connecting and expands information.

The communication process is complicated enough without using the above counterproductive tactics. For most people, speaking is like breathing: we do it automatically without spending much time on how we do it. Mostly, we notice how other people are lacking in good communication skills.

Observe your communication patterns. In which situations do you curtail communications? There’s no need to feel bad about it; just be aware of it. Know that it’s OK to stop in mid-sentence, and say, “I don’t want to say it like that. Let me begin again.”

Too often we think successfully communicating means that we’ve converted the other to our way of thinking. If you set it up that way, you’ll experience much disappointment. Consider this instead: you are successful when you are respectful in the delivery of your message, for another’s consideration.


Barbara McRae, MCC
Teen Parenting Expert, Campus Calm

[For more information on how to effectively get beyond communication hurdles, refer to “Coach Your Teen to Success.” Visit www.amazon.com]

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