[headline_arial_large_centered color=”#CC0000″]The ONE Mistake That Causes 99% of All Misunderstandings, Arguments, and Conflict[/headline_arial_large_centered]
While volunteering at a local parent support group, I discovered the single biggest mistake that I was making while communicating with my children, that was causing a lot of the battles and the power struggles. And if I could just learn this one thing and change it, everything would fall into place. I’ve seen this time and time again. I’ve seen it in my family, in other families, I’ve seen it in the workplace. This is one thing that we all do, and once you become aware of it, it no longer has an effect if you choose to do something about it.
Because this mistake was so bad that it caused endless fights and arguments and conflicts that made absolutely no sense to me, I asked you at the beginning, “Have you ever had a miscommunication with someone where you were communicating something you thought was simple, they took it the wrong way, a fight broke out and you’re left wondering how did this happen?” Well, here’s how it happened. We have to first of all ask ourselves, are we really communicating?
Here’s what happens in communication …
[headline_arial_medium_left color=”#0099FF”]Science Explains Why We Cannot Get Our Kids To Listen[/headline_arial_medium_left]
Have you ever said something to someone that had a certain meaning to you only to find that it meant something completely different to the other person? It may have seemed so simple to you but it triggers a response in the other person that you did not intend.
Scientists call this the “arc of distortion”. This distortion occurs when what you say and what they hear are two completely different things. There can be a lot of different reasons for this distortion to occur and unless you begin to understand why and when it happens with your family, then the conflict and the arguing will continue.
In the Blissful Parenting System, we help you to fully understand the distortion that is unique to your family so that you can improve communication and avoid conflict.
What You Say Is NOT What They Hear
The graphic above illustrates what you say versus what they hear. The dot represents what you say. This is something that you are trying to articulate and get your point across. This point is going to go across in the form of an intended message. There’s something that you are trying to communicate. In your mind, you might imagine this message taking a straight line from your mouth to the ears of the other person, and that it’s going to be received how you intended it to be.
Is that what happened? Unfortunately, what actually happens is this – we think it’s going in a straight line, but it’s being heard in a totally different way. We’re saying things in such a way, based on our beliefs, our understandings, our definitions of words, language, our own psychological behaviors and conditions, that if you were talking to yourself, you would hear yourself perfectly. But what happens is the other human being that you’re talking to, whether it be your child, your spouse or a co-worker, they have their own set of parameters, their beliefs, their own mindset. They have their own way of understanding. So there’s a sort of interpretation that goes on between you and them. They’re hearing the words, but they have to decode them first to get the meaning.
What happens is, the meaning for them is different from what it was for you. That causes what we cause the arc of distortion. You need to be aware that the arc of distortion is there at all times. When you’re having a communication with your child, when you are having a communication with your spouse or partner, with grandparents, with a co-worker, a teacher at school, this arc of distortion is always there.
Now, we actually try to force our message through by repeating the same thing over and over and over again. Have you ever asked your child to get ready for bed and it felt like you had to ask them 20,000 times before they actually went to bed? Did you ask them to get ready for bed the same way every time? Maybe just getting a little bit louder each time, but you’re just telling them the same words over, and over and over again, expecting them to hear it differently.
Gain The Power To Choose Your Words Wisely
Understanding the arc of distortion allows us to make a different choice. We can now choose to communicate differently. We can choose different words. We can choose a different tone of voice to match what we know of the other person, so that they can understand in a way they need to hear it. In this way, we can start to take responsibility for our own communication. This is why it changed so much for me, because I was talking to my kids the way I needed to talk to myself, not the way they needed to hear it. So I had to alter the way I was delivering my message. And it still happens today. If I say something, and there’s a misunderstanding and I know that this is going on, I will change what I said. I will say it in a different way and I will keep doing that until I find what works, communicating in such a way that they understand.
So understand that what you said is not exactly what they heard. It may be as simple as “Go clean your room.” and what they heard was, “You’re lazy, why don’t you clean your room?!” It’s not what I said, but that’s how they interpreted it. “Is your homework done?” becomes “You’re too stupid to do your homework. Why aren’t you doing your homework? Why isn’t this already done?”
This may sound silly but this was an actual conversation in our household. I just asked a question. “Is your homework done?” My son literally lost it, and I’m thinking, “Okay, what happened here?” Through digging and through communicating – and that’s why in the course, we work so much on communication tools, since once you have the tools you can alter your communication methods – I was able to use that and determine that he had a bad day at school that day. He didn’t understand what the teacher was asking him to do and they had a little bit of a battle at school. Me asking that question was then a trigger that brought up that emotional response.
If I had not understood the arc of distortion, if I had not understood the effective communication tools that we teach in the course, I would not have arrived at that answer so quickly. Or it could have been an argument that went on all night.
Here’s another example. “Hi honey. You’re home late today.” You’re supposed to take that as, “I expected you home earlier. Where were you?” They hear it in that tone of voice. It’s not what you said. How many of you have ever communicated with your child or your spouse a simple question, but you got an unexpected reaction in return? That’s what’s happening here. The arc of distortion is causing the miscommunication. The awareness of this can help to make a change.
Awareness that what I say is not always what they hear – that’s the first key. It allows me to take a step back and say, “Okay. What’s going on? How do I need to change this?”
Understanding that they need me to speak in a certain way so that the message can be received. If I don’t speak in that way, then the message will continue to be misunderstood.
Then I get to take responsibility for my own communication rather than expecting them to hear me correctly. “You’re not hearing me. Why are you not listening to me?” Do these things sound familiar? Or, is it, “I’m sorry. Let me try saying that in a different way. I didn’t mean it that way.” So you just take it on. You take responsibility for your own communication rather than expecting them to hear correctly. If you learn to do this, and in the course we go through so many tools of communication that are going to help you with this, you will eliminate 90% of your conflict because most of it is based on miscommunication and misunderstanding.
How Does This Help Me Deal With The Behavior?
Awareness that what I say is not always what they hear. Understanding that they need me to speak in a certain way so the message can be received. Take responsibility for my own communication rather than expecting them to hear correctly.