Situation comedies are often based on communication getting an unexpected or surprising response.  In a comedy it is funny, but in our professional and family lives not so much.  I notice in my work how often people will get the opposite of what they want when communicating.

While these may be obvious to the observer, I notice people continue to do these things and expect something different.  I’ve listed four common ways.  Can you add to this list?

  • We want to be heard, so we raise our voice and talk louder. We might even talk over someone.  But the opposite of what we wanted, which was to be heard and understood, happens – people disengage.  They might hear your voice but they don’t listen to what you are saying. You get the opposite – a barrier.

  • We want to give someone some very clear feedback but feel a little uncomfortable. So, we end up over-communicating with too many words and confusing the person. We get the opposite, which is a confused person who knows they are supposed to be getting some feedback but they aren’t really sure what it is.

  • We hire someone smart and we want them to be successful. Then we micromanage them to help their success. The message we are giving them is, “I don’t trust you and I don’t think you are smart enough to figure this out.” Then we get the opposite, which is their performance doesn’t rise to their highest level – it actually falls. A lot of time they will quit.  I have a person close to me that just left a position because of this.  Again, opposite communication.

  • We respond to bad behavior that we’d like to correct or inform with more bad behavior. This is playing out constantly in the media with politics and a lot of other things.  But addressing bad behavior with bad behavior never works. It gives us the opposite of what we want – like pouring gasoline on a fire.  And, we go away looking as bad as what we judged as bad.

How human beings communicate is pretty funny when you step back from it.   Those opposite behaviors get our spiral going the wrong direction! If you’d like to know how to keep the spiral going toward your intent contact me:

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