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<xTITLE>The Dirty Dozen Of Communication</xTITLE>

The Dirty Dozen Of Communication

by Department of Veterans Affairs
1. ORDERING, DIRECTING, COMMANDING

Telling the person to do something; giving the person an order or command. "You must...," "You have to...," "You will...," can produce fear or activeresistance and invites "testing". Promotes rebellious behavior, retaliation.

2. WARNING, THREATENING, PROMISING

Telling the person what consequences will occur if the person does something, or carrying out of the consequences or promises rewarding or punishing). "If you don't then...," "You'd better, or...," can produce fear, submissiveness. Invites "testing" of threatened consequences. Can cause resentment, anger, rebellion.

3. MORALIZING PREACHING, SHOULDS AND OUGHTS

Invoking vague outside authority as accepted truth. "You should...," "You ought to...," "It is your responsibility...," creates "obligation" or guilt feelings. Can cause person to "dig in" and defend his or her position even more. ("Who says?") Communicates lack of trust in person's sense of responsibility.

4. ADVISING, GIVING SOLUTIONS OR SUGGESTIONS

Telling the person how to solve a problem, giving the person advice or suggestions; providing answers or solutions for the person. "What I would do is...," "Why don't you...," "Let me suggest...," can imply person is not able to solve own problems. Prevents person from thinking through a problem, considering alternative solutions and trying them out for reality. Can cause dependency, or resistance.

5. TEACHING, LECTURING, GIVING LOGICAL ARGUMENTS

Trying to influence the person with facts, counter-arguments, logic, information, or your own opinions. "Here is why you are wrong...," "The facts are ...," "Yes, but...," provokes defensive position and counter-arguments. Often causes person to "turn off" other, to quit listening. Can cause person to feel inferior, inadequate.

6. JUDGING, CRITICIZING, DISAGREEING, BLAMING

Making a negative judgment or evaluation of the person. "You are not thinking maturely...," "You are lazy...," Implies incompetence, stupidity,poor judgment. Cuts off communication from the person over fear ofnegative judgment or "bawling out". Person often accepts judgments astrue ("I am bad."); or retaliates ("You're not so great yourself!").

7. PRAISING, AGREEING

Offering a positive evaluation or judgment; agreeing, "Well, I think you're doing a great job!" "You're right! - that person sounds awful!" implies high expectations as well as surveillance of person's "toeing the mark". Can be seen as patronizing or as a manipulative effort to encourage desired behavior. Can cause anxiety when person's perception of self doesn't match other's praise.

8. SHAMING, RIDICULING, CHASTISING

Making the person feel foolish; putting the person into a category, shaming the person. "Crybaby," "Okay, Mr. Smarty...," "Stop whining," can cause a person to feel unworthy, pigeonholed, with a stereotype. Can have devastating effect on self-image of person. Often provokes verbal retaliation.

9. INTERPRETING, ANALYZING, DIAGNOSING

Telling the person what his or her motives are, or analyzing why the person is doing or saying something; communicating that you have him or her figured out. "What's wrong with you is...," "You're just tired," "You don't really mean that," can be threatening and frustrating. Person can feel either trapped, exposed, or not believed. Stops the person fromcommunicating for fear of distortion or exposure.

10. REASSURING, SYMPATHIZING, CONSOLING, SUPPORTING

Trying to make the person feel better, talking the person out of his or her feelings, trying to make feelings go away, denying the strength of his or her feelings. "Don't worry," "You'll feel better," "Oh, cheer up!" "It's not that bad..." causes a person to feel misunderstood. Evokes strong feelings of hostility. ("That's easy for you to say!") Person often picks up your message as "It's not all right for you to feel bad."

11. PROBING, QUESTIONING, INTERROGATING

Trying to find reasons, motives, causes; searching for more information to help you solve the problem. "Why...," "Who...," "What did you...," "How..." Since answering questions often results in getting subsequent criticisms or solutions, people often learn to reply with non-answers, avoidance, half-truths, or lies. Since questions often keep the person in-the-dark as to what the other is driving at, the person may become anxious and fearful. The person can lose sight of his or her problem while answering questions spawned by the other's concerns.

12. WITHDRAWING, DISTRACTING, HUMORING, DIVERTING

Trying to get the person away from the problem; withdrawing from the problem yourself; distracting the person, kidding the person out of it, pushing the problem aside. "Let's talk about pleasant things...," "Why don't you try running the world!" Remaining silent; turning away. Implies that life's difficulties are to be avoided rather than dealt with. Can infer person's problems are unimportant, petty or invalid. Stops openness from a person when he or she is experiencing a difficulty.

From the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Mediation web site.

Website: www.va.gov/adr/index.htm

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