“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words”Roy T. Bennett
Our loved ones will only communicate with us when they feel safe to do so. Even the toughest among us will not be emotionally vulnerable in an environment that doesn’t feel emotionally safe. When we don’t feel safe we go to one of our natural responses to danger – fight, flight, or freeze. These aren’t just physical responses, they are the ways we respond in our communication.
Jack Gibb identified six characteristics that cause defensive communication and six characteristics that open the door for healthy communication.
- Evaluation (judgmental and accusatory language);
- Control (manipulative lead);
- Superiority (perceived power, intellectual ability);
- Neutrality (lack of concern);
- Certainty (unwillingness to compromise);
- Strategy (hidden motives and deceit).
- Description (genuine desire to understand);
- Problem Orientation (open to finding a solution);
- Equality (respect and politeness for everyone);
- Empathy (worthy of affection);
- Provisionalism (willingness to investigate);
- Spontaneity (straightforwardness, directness).