Part of being an effective communicator is having great self-awareness and the ability to self-regulate. A common problem with tough situations and difficult conversations is to run a default unhelpful thinking pattern. The key to dealing with this is being aware of when this is happening to you and having the ability to self-regulate and negate that unhelpful thought. Self-awareness and self-regulation help us to keep a balanced view and keep our thoughts, emotions and our own self talk under control. This can occur in everyday communications, negotiations or when we are about to have a difficult conversation. There are 5 common unhelpful thinking styles that can sabotage or interfere with these conversations. Being aware of them and recognising them can go a long way to calming our self-talk and creating an effective conversation. The 5 unhelpful thinking styles we need to be aware of are:
- Over Personalising:
Is assuming that what has occurred is all our fault and hence we beat ourselves up over the outcome. When we receive feedback or something does not turn out exactly as we expected, don’t place the blame fully on yourself. There are always a myriad of factors that occur when something goes wrong and internalising and self-blaming is of no use.
Is building an issue up to the extent that a small problem becomes, in your mind, a complete disaster. The reality is that most situations and circumstances can be recovered. And most unsuccessful conversations, no matter how bad they go, are not the end of the world.
- Unreasonable Expectations:
Is about “I should always be right, I should never say the wrong thing, or hurt someone’s feelings.” In this day and age the reality is you will upset or offend someone at some stage. Being aware that you may sometimes say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing and having a preparedness to recognise this and apologise for this will reduce your unreasonable expectations.
Is when you believe or express views with extreme “never” or “always “. For example, I am never lucky, or I am always wrong. Learn to accept that things are never black and white and learn to accept shades of grey.
Is when you blow up some factors out of proportion and disregard other factors in a selective way e.g. dismissing all of the helpful things someone has done over the past week and focusing on their one mistake or their one selfish act.
To be a more successful communicator, especially when have tough discussions or difficult conversations, learn to recognise these unhelpful thoughts and you will approach your conversations with a more balanced perspective.