A person’s “subjective truth” coupled with an inability to actively listen can create barriers to effectively communicating and, as such, can hinder a resolution that could otherwise be reached by and between the parties. Fighting to get someone to agree with “your truth” without trying to hear “the other person’s truth” never really works.
David d. Burns, M.D. addressed attitudes that can hinder effective communication. [David D. Burns, M.D., The Feeling Good Handbook, Plume, 1989.] The below-itemized attitudes should accordingly be avoided whenever parties seek to resolve disputes; whether they be family disputes, educational disputes and/or employment disputes. Whatever the context, the participants should guard against their tendencies to adopt the counter-productive attitudes itemized below.
- Conviction– Strongly holding the belief that you alone know the truth and that the other person is wrong can be harmful to any resolution. Attempt to directly express your feelings and try to understand the other person’s thoughts and feelings rather than insisting on proving your own point.
- Faulting the Other– One may believe that they are entirely innocent and that the problem is solely the fault of the other person.
- Victimizing Oneself– One may feel they are receiving unfair treatment and/or otherwise engage in self-pity. Being stubborn and unwilling to improve the situation can create the impression that one “wants” to be a martyr.
- Deceiving Oneself– One may not be able to realize their contribution to a problem. If a person cannot recognize the impact their behavior has on others, this will negatively impact conflict resolution.
- Being Overly Defensive– One may be triggered by the fear of being criticized and rather than effectively listening and attempting to see some truth in the other person’s viewpoint, some argue and defend themselves regarding anything negative or disagreeable.
- Fear of Being Bossed– One may be triggered by a fear of being coerced. “ Digging in” and resisting any suggestions out of fear of being controlled and dominated which can be counter-productive.
- Demanding/Entitled– One may think that they are deserving of being treated a certain way and become frustrated when treatment is not as expected. Attempting to try to understand the motivation of others will help to get to resolution faster than seeing the other side as unreasonable. Empathy is the antidote to entitlement.
- Self-Centeredness– An individual’s selfish tendencies can also hinder resolution. The participants should be actively listening to one another and actually be trying to understand what the other is thinking and feeling rather than being overly focused on self.
- Lack of Trust– One may also believe that the other party will take advantage of them if any attempt to understand the other person’s thoughts and feelings is demonstrated.
- The Need to Help– One may feel the need to make helpful recommendations rather than actively and empathetically listening to the expressed needs of the other party. While their intentions may be good, the other party often becomes frustrated by what they may perceive as the “helping” parties need to control the outcome of their dispute.
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