It is important to keep the lines of communication open. I love watching my dogs Max and Cooper communicate. If Max wants to play, he assumes the play-bow position. If Cooper doesn’t, he jumps on the couch with me, sending the message that he is not interested, thanks for asking.
Have you noticed there are times when you have such a heavy workload and tight deadlines that you feel charged by it? You hear people say things such as “I work better under pressure.” Then there are times with the same workload and deadlines that you feel you are going to snap if one more thing is added to your plate. Why the difference? Is it the feeling of being valued or not valued? We have an innate need to feel appreciated and to know that our contributions matter.
We will dive in and give a task everything we have if we believe we are making a difference. If we feel we are part of a team. Looking outside of ourselves for that validation can leave us feeling slighted if we don’t speak up and let our needs be known. If you are feeling frustrated at work, be honest about it but show up with solutions when you do broach the subject. If your relationship needs are not met, spell out what you need. People communicate differently. You may think your message or signals couldn’t be any clearer but, more often than not, when you learn to speak in a way that is more explicit to the recipient, you will be surprised to find they are completely shocked to realize you feel a certain way. When you say the same message in their language, it’s as if it is the first time they have heard it, even though you feel as if you have been shouting it from the rooftop for years. It’s not just a man versus woman style; it is a communication style. The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, is an excellent book for learning how to communicate your needs in a language that can be understood by the recipient.
Cooper and Max not only communicate with each other, they also watch our bodies for indications of our mood. Are they about to get a treat? Are they about to go for a walk? They scan our faces for frowns to measure how our day went. I used to think it was a sign of guilt when Max went into a corner when I walked into a room and found my ______ torn apart and all over the room (I used a blank space because I had so many items to choose from, I couldn’t decide).
He didn’t feel guilty; he was watching my body language, my leaning in, my frown. He listened to the deep “are you kidding me!” when my eyes first caught a glimpse of the destruction. Don’t just listen to your friend, partner, coworker … look at their body language. Are they saying it is okay with their words, but their body looks like you told them they have three weeks to live? Did they hear your message or are they staring at you with a blank expression as if you just said: “I decided to take a shuttle to Mars for the weekend and hook up with an alien.” Get some feedback if you are not confident you were heard, or if your message didn’t come across as you intended. It doesn’t have to be an exam or a “tell me what I just said.” That would make any brain freeze. Ask what they think about what you said or how they would put it into practice. You can tell from the answer if your message was clear or if there is going to be a rumor at the water cooler on Monday that you are dating an alien from Mars.
What techniques do you use to keep the lines of communication open?