Advertising
Advertising

Communication 101: If You Try to Win the Battle, You Might Lose the War

Communication 101:  If You Try to Win the Battle, You Might Lose the War

     “You might say, a focus on being right is actually “wrong!”

    Do you ever have an argument, and end up feeling badly even if you “win?” Winning and being “right” does not ensure that things will end well. In fact, if your sense of victory is dependent on another person’s defeat, the victory might be hollow, indeed. Being “right” is over-rated. When people are in an argument – what really are they doing? They want to defend themselves!  In an argument, each person is trying to change the other.  And who is really the only one we can change?  We all know the answer: ourselves! 

    Although most of us know better, we give it a valiant try to change others anyway, because we are just so convinced that if they saw it our way, things would be better. All too often well meaning souls think they know what is best for others, and want to tweak someone else’s mind or convince them why they need to change. That is called Aggressive BehaviorAggressive Behavior is characterized by “YOU” statements, and focuses on how the other person “should be.”  Many times aggressive communication is designed to “get back” at someone else or control how they behave or think.  An example of an aggressive statement is “You have no right to say that to me!” Many people think that aggression is okay if the end justifies the means, but really anything short of physical danger does not merit aggression, because by definition the behavior is authoritarian and judgmental.

    Advertising

    Of course, children need parents to set guidelines, limits and consequences, and it is the logical consequences that help children to learn from their mistakes.  but they don’t need scolding and yelling to learn, and in fact they learn to be fearful and inhibited rather than learning the lesson at hand.   The emotional consequences of power struggles, fear and anger lead to a lot of negativity, guilt and low self esteem. Healthy communication in parenting and otherwise is focused on self-expression without the goal of changing someone else. That is called authoritative parenting, which is differentiated from authoritarian parenting which relies on anger, negative emotions and criticalness.

    Authoritative, assertive communication uses “I” statements.  “I” statements are meant to be honest, but uses tact.  It is not judgmental and expresses personal feelings without trying to change the way someone else sees things.  An assertive statement is “I felt angry when you raised your voice at me and called me names”  in contrast to the victim-like “You make me so mad!”

    Advertising

    Communication Takeaways 

    • Strive to use assertive behavior and remind yourself that your goal is to express yourself rather than change someone’s mind. The motto of assertive behavior is like the popular 70’s Psychology book, “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.”
    • Aggressive Behavior is characterized by “You” statements and the focus is on controlling and being right over another person. That type of behavior erodes relationships. The motto here is: “I’m Okay – You’re Not!”  
    • Very few relationships flourish with the type of attitude that you want to achieve superiority in an argument, rather than seeking a “win-win’ solution.  
    • Instead of striving to “win”  seek to be assertive, show empathy, and work on validating others without putting them down. 
    • Ask yourself – “Would I rather “judge” or show someone that I care?”  Love wins over teaching hands down! 
    • Victories become empty over time if your need to be right becomes a pattern. Others might distance form you, or feel tense in your presence.  It’s lonely out there!
    • Don’t pull!  Trying to be right is like putting your fingers in the Chinese Finger Trap carnival you are stuck. The more you try to prove you are right, and the more the other person pulls, your relationship suffers.

    So think of the most recent conflict you had with someone close to you.  Were you focusing on proving how you were right?  If so, how would it had gone differently if you focused instead on validating and empathizing with how they felt rather than setting them straight?     So next time you are close to getting  in an argument and want to prove you are right, just imagine or pull out the carnival toy, the Chinese Finger Trap, and remind yourself not to get stuck in it!

    Advertising

    How can you listen and really understand when you are too busy defending yourself and trying to change their mind? Remember that a focus on being right ends up making you wrong!  

    (Photo credit: Tin Can Phones via Shutterstock)

    Advertising

    More by this author

    Judy Belmont

    Mental health author, motivational speaker and psychotherapist

    11 WARNING Signs Of Unhealthy Relationships You Need to Be Aware Of The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People Robin Williams’ Death Is A Wake-Up Call: 12 Natural Ways To Fight Depression Quick Test: What Is Your Forgiveness IQ? 7 Essential Ways That Inspirational Quotes Can Literally Change Your Day … and Your Life!

    Trending in Communication

    1 What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships 2 How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence 3 This 4-Year Old Girl’s Explanation On the Problem with New Year’s Resolutions Is Everything You Need 4 What You Really Need to Feel Secure in a Relationship 5 7 Signs You’re Ready to Change Your Life (And What to Do Next)

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on January 15, 2019

    What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

    What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

    When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

    Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

    It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

    While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

    Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

    What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

    How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

    It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

    Advertising

    People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

    “A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

    In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

    Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

    As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

    When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

    It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

    Advertising

    What are Interpersonal Skills?

    Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

    In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

    From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

    For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

    Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

    How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

    There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

    There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

    Advertising

    Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

    I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

    Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

    “That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

    Don’t overlook introspection.

    While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

    Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

    Advertising

    When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

    Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

    “Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

    The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

    The Bottom Line

    You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

    Read Next