We may mean well when we share our opinions with someone (even if they didn’t ask for it) and most of us have been guilty of moralizing others which is when we tell the people what they ‘should’ do, think or feel.
The fact of the matter is, you and I have spent years forming communication habits that don’t serve us well and are considered very destructive. One aspect of improving your communication skills is recognizing when we are doing something that sabotages your skill building efforts (bad habits have a way of doing this).
This is accomplished when we catch ourselves in the act of a communication bad habit and stop ourself in our own destructive path and change direction.
The following is a list of 7 Destructive Bad Communication Habits. Some are more blatantly obvious than others.
- Criticizing: Evaluating someone negatively
- Diverting: Switching the other person’s concerns/issues onto your own
- Logical Argument: Trying to convince the other person with facts and logic
- Reassuring: Trying to stop the other person from feeling the negative emotions they are experiencing
- Ordering: Commanding a person to do something
- Advising: Solving other people’s problems (whether they asked for help or not)
- Threatening: Controlling another person’s actions with warnings or consequences.
You are welcome to add other destructive communication habits that you recognize and are not on this list.
What you need to do is have the courage to ask yourself what your intentions are in using these destructive habits? And then you need to understand the negative impact you have on the other person.
Below is a list of just a few affects these destructive habits have on other people:
- Diminished self-esteem
- Defensiveness, resistance and resentment
- Feeling deflated and inadequate
- Decreases the likelihood of problem solving
Is this what you were hoping to achieve in the communication with that person? Probably not.
Most of us don’t wake up every day thinking about how to make another person feel miserable. But when we do have that negative impact, it’s up to you to decide how to make a positive impact.
Here are 3 steps to help you eliminate bad communication habits
Step #1: Be Honest with Yourself
What habits do you tend to use (especially when you are in conflict) that don’t serve you or the other person?
Step #2: Know Your Intentions
Why did you use that destructive communication habit? What were you wanting to achieve?
Reflect on the discussion: How where you feeling? How did the other person react? What did you achieve and not achieve in using that communication habit?
Step #3: Ask For A “Do-Over”
This is probably the hardest step since you may have gotten what you set out to accomplish using your destructive communication habit BUT you also made a lasting negative impression and one that can ruin your reputation at work, in your family or in the community.
If your intentions were good but the delivery became destructive then ask that person for a “do-over” discussion. This time around ask the person how the last conversation affected them. AND THEN LISTEN
Don’t justify your actions, don’t make excuses- simply listen to them and then ask how you could have approached them better.
When you take these steps, I can guarantee you will stop using destructive communication quicker and you will improve your communication skills faster because you will have had the opportunity to see, hear and feel the effect you had on that person… and that has a positive lasting impact.