Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fear Factor

When you come from a family of talkers like I do, it's easy to assume that because someone talks a lot, they must be an effective communicator.  But, that is not necessarily so.  Doing a lot of talking could just be a lot of talking.  Effective communication involves one person accurately and clearly expressing ideas and another person listening and understanding.  Talking a lot may sometimes do exactly the opposite.  

Randy does not come from a family of talkers, but his abilities as a communicator (when he is actually trying) are far greater than my own.  As that has been made clear to me over and over, I've been trying to strengthen my communication skills by reading a book or two.  Today, I'd like to share with you something I'm learning about.

What makes you feel emotionally safe in a conversation?  According to Love Talk by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, we all have primary fear factors that, when not addressed, lead to walls coming up and communication completely breaking down.  "When our fear of losing what we deeply value increases, so does our insecurity, and that's when our conversations get twisted." Below are the 4 basic fear factors and as with anything, you may identify with more than one.

-gaining control of time (live in fear of wasting your time, complains to others to 'get to the point')
-winning approval from others (facts take a backseat to emotion of your message, do you like me?)
-maintaining loyalty (needs met through commitment and stability, fear change, value devotion)
-achieving quality standards (fear a choice may tarnish, approach decisions cautiously)

So, as I've mentioned  before, Randy and I are quite the opposites and this is no different.  My primary fears are that you won't like me and you will shift your loyalty away from me.  Randy feels the most at ease when high standards are met and he is using his time productively.  

How can any of this help you today?  When you're trying to communicate with someone, it's important to understand what might be sabotaging it.  If you start a conversation with me by telling me how much you don't like what I've just said or done, don't be surprised if that's all I hear and shut down from there.  If you want Randy to understand something and engage with you, don't spend 15 minutes explaining something when you could say it in 15 words.  See how that works?  It may not change your life, but it might help you understand people a little bit better.

I get shy when it comes to taking compliments and saying thank you.  Many of late have been very complimentary of this blog and some of the things I've written.  Every comment is appreciated and soaked up by my primary need of approval and words of affirmation.  :)

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