ehowton (ehowton) wrote,

Rules of Engagement

Ever Seeking

I've finally defined what is alive in me. Curiosity. About, as it turns out, very nearly everything. Its what drives me. Self-improvement is a rabid byproduct of my discoveries. That and the humbling knowledge that the more I know, the more I know I don't know. And as I am wont to do, I strive for balance between the two.

Here recently I've been very distressed over my apparent inability to effectively communicate. While stating your needs in a non-judgmental way may be enlightening for two parties who want to embrace non-violent communication, convincing someone who is less enthusiastic about it has proved challenging. It reminds me of the t-shirt which reads, "I CAN EXPLAIN IT TO YOU BUT I CAN'T UNDERSTAND IT FOR YOU." Dorothy Parker and horticulture for a dawning new age.

I'm half way through Sun Tzu's The Art of War and I'm waiting for him to get to the valuable lessons of defeat. For all of his enlightenment, so far he hasn't shown a penchant for lessons learned through failure. I suppose that 2500 years ago in China that meant only the finality of death. My first work of non-fiction should be The Art of Defeat as a guide for the next two and a half millennium. Then again I am learning quite a bit about the adverse psychology of siege warfare both in the pages and in real life; entropy at an escalating scale.

But every once in a while I find something new to consider. In this case I present to you from the critical thinking textbook, THINK a short introduction to communication styles and how important it is to not only know yourself, but your communication partner in order to achieve that ever-elusive intimate level:

The way we communicate cannot be separated from who we are. Understanding our own styles and those of others facilitates good communication in relationships and and critical thinking skills. There are four basics types of communication style: assertive, aggressive, passive, and passive-aggressive.

  • The assertive style is how we express ourselves when we are confident and our self-esteem is strong. Like effective critical thinkers, assertive communicators are able to clearly communicate their own needs but also know their limits. Assertive communicators care about relationships and strive for mutually satisfactory solutions.

  • The aggressive communication style involves the attempt to make other people do what we want or meet our needs through manipulation and control tactics. Passive communicators do the opposite.

  • Passive communication is based on compliance and efforts to avoid confrontation at all costs. They don't want to rock the boat and often put their needs after those of others.

  • Passive-aggressive communicators combine elements of the passive and aggressive styles. They avoid direct confrontation (passive) but use devious and sneaky means of manipulation (aggressive) to get their own way.

Effective communication skills are one of the characteristics of a good critical thinker. A healthy, assertive communication style and the ability to correctly interpret others' communication are important in the establishment of an intimate relationship. As relationships develop, how effectively and appropriately each person communicates appears to outweigh other factors, such as appearance or similarity, when determining relationship satisfaction.

Unfortunately, many of us are notoriously inaccurate at interpreting others' communication. In a study, participants correctly interpreted only 73 percent of their intimate partner's supportive behavior and 89 percent of their negative behavior. Failing to notice the communication of affection may leave our partner wondering if we really care. At other times, we may misinterpret our partner's behavior as angry or pushy and needlessly provoke an argument that is based on our misperception. Thus, it is important to establish effective communication behaviors and patterns if you want a relationship to succeed.

Tags: communication, critical thinking, needs, nvc, philosophy

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