Have you ever been in a situation where there are words coming out of your mouth in response to something someone has said or done, and even as these words are coming out you are thinking, “Noooooooo, don’t go there?” The words keep coming out though even if it seems to be in slow motion and there is nothing you can do to retract them. You know from past experience that these words will not help your cause, will not get you your desired results, yet you say them anyway. Why do we do this over and over again?
One reason could be that we do not realize we are stuck in a rut or “unwanted repetitive pattern” (URP) of communication. On some level we think that if we say the same thing just this one more time that it will magically work when the other hundreds of times did not. If we do manage to have the awareness that this is a pattern, yet it is the only resource we have then we are consciously stuck.
The first step toward resolving this issue is to be aware of it. Developing more self-awareness is critical because we need to be aware of what our goals are in our communication before we can even begin to do something about it. In addition, we need to be more aware of the reactions we are getting from our communication partners and if they are in sync with our desired goals. If they are, then super we are on track. If they are not, then this could generate questions we may ask ourselves or our conversation partners to get more clarity. These may include: I am curious about your reaction because it wasn’t what I anticipated. Could you tell me more about what you are thinking, feeling?
The second step is to learn new ways of responding. Lifelong learning need not be just an aspiration, but rather a part of our everyday lives. There are many ways of improvement from seeking formal instruction, to reading on one’s own, to writing reflective journals to deepen our learning. The learning process can be done solo or with others, depending on your learning preferences.
The third step is to want to make the effort to make these changes. Learning new ways of being in the world only really work if they are applied and done so with good intentions. So, developing new patterns of self-awareness, taking steps to communicate in ways that generate desired responses and building better relationships is something to look forward to in 2013.