Two very basic, recurrent patterns cause most of our communication breakdowns.
First, we emotionally cocoon ourselves. We’re not willing to open up. We’re afraid of what others will think—especially someone in authority, such as a boss, parent, or pastor. So we take the safe route of guarding our deeper feelings. In organizations where there is a lack of trust, practically everyone does this, and leadership has little idea what anyone truly thinks, even about the organization and its leaders. So leaders bring in consultants to reveal the otherwise obvious.
Second, we criticize others. This is essentially a blame game to make ourselves feel better. For instance, much of our gossip is really designed to make us feel superior to those we gossip about. Of course we often have good “reasons” to be critical of others. But others have plenty of reasons to be critical of us as well. We all could fill oceans with rationales. But all of the fish in the ocean won’t enhance the flow of our communication. They will just make us feel more self-righteous—like we deserve a “Rev.” in front our names. Criticism almost always thwarts shared understanding. And it causes more cocooning.
These two patterns dog us daily. Learning how to address them is wisdom, gained and seasoned over time. It requires courage and a generous heart.
— Quentin Schultze Twitter: @quentinschultze.com