Practical Communication

“When Communication Goes Bad” Take a Look at Yourself First

If you’ve ever seen one of those “When Animals Go Bad,” reality T.V. shows, you know they’re based on stories and sometimes graphic video footage of animals attacking people. Sometimes the result is humorous, with the human simply being embarrassed by the encounter. Other stories end in tragedy.

Many who watch these shows walk away concluding that the animals were at fault. In my opinion, the human involved causes about 99% of these attacks. What kind of knucklehead decides to walk up and try to pet a bear and her cub or a mother moose and her calf? Even in those tragic situations where children are hurt by animals, domestic or otherwise, it’s usually an adult human who is at fault, not the animal.

However, for most people, their instinct is to look to look to “others,” human or otherwise, to blame when situations “go bad” and never get around to looking at themselves as being the cause, or at least part of the problem.

When my daughter was selecting her courses for her first semester in college, I highly recommended that she take “Interpersonal Communication.” I believe having an understanding of communication and developing great communication skills are keys to success in both your work and personal life. The first paper her professor assigned was a “Self Analysis Paper.” They’ve only covered two chapters in class and are only two weeks into the semester and the professor is saying basically, if you want to understand communication and relationships, you have to take a look at and understand yourself first.

What a novel concept! Look inward. Take a look at yourself first! Understand why you do the things you do, think the things you do, feel the things you feel BEFORE you start analyzing “outward.”

Just like the humans who only look outward and blame animals who attack, most of us look outward when communication goes wrong, when in fact, we should take a step back and analyze ourselves and our role in the situation first.
• What was my role?

• Why do I act/react the way I do?

• What causes me to feel the way I feel?

• What responsibility can I take?

• How can I do better next time?

• What can I do differently next time?

• How can I improve my skills (communication, conflict, and other relationship skills)?

• What can I do to make my relationships better?

The answers to questions like these will not only become more self aware, but can be acted upon and even shared with others to take the first steps in understanding and improving our relationships.

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