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Blockers Can Stop Communication Dead In Its Tracks

“You always do this,” or “You never do that. Ever heard or said those phrases in your family? This type of communication is called “globalizing,” or generalizing about a person’s behavior. Global statements are hardly ever accurate, and they tend to make people angry and defensive.

Globalizing is one of several communication blockers that can stop the flow of communication between people. Deborah J. Thomason, family development specialist with the Clemson State University Cooperative Extension Service, lists the following additional “communication blockers:”

*Interrupting—Interrupting when someone is talking stops the conversation before the speaker has finished telling his or her side.

*Ignoring—“Hogging” the conversation or simply not paying attention to the speaker is a self-centered way of ignoring the other person’s contribution.

*Sarcasm—Saying things in a sarcastic way poisons the atmosphere by causing resentment and anger.

*Accusing—Accusations are counter productive; they usually cause the accused party to become angry and defensive.

*Insulting/Name Calling/Threatening—Aggressive personal attacks such as these only cause hostility and resentment.

*Judging—A judgmental attitude occurs when one party assumes the right to decide if the other is right or wrong, good or bad. Judging can kill a conversation before it even gets started.

*Blaming—Do you know someone who is never at fault? If there is a problem or conflict, someone else must be to blame. Blamers like to say, “It wasn’t my fault—it was your idea!”

*Stating Opinion As Fact—How do you feel when someone states his or her opinion as if it were the absolute truth? It is vital to healthy communication to allow others to express opinions, even if they contradict your own.

*Expecting Mind-Reading—It is common for people to assume that others know and understand their thoughts and feelings. But they can’t know unless you tell them! Don’t expect a family member, friend or co-worker to read your mind.

Take a look at the communication patterns in your family. Do you notice any of the communication blockers? If so, take steps now to identify and stop the blockers before the lines of communication are damaged beyond repair.

For Release: Week of 05/24/04

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