It is important to monitor how you respond to someone, whether it be on forums, in chat, or in real life. Communication, as stated in a previous entry of mine, is a part of life that is inescapable. Those on this site should know that this sites foundation IS communication. We speak through forums, articles, covens, chatter, private mail. So take some time to think about your communication and how it works. It's best to be a person who gives well-rounded responses that vary, instead of someone with the "same
song and dance" as they say. When you monitor how you respond you are better able to control the conversation flow and produce better communication results.
Adler proposes six main styles of responding:
- Evaluative or Judging
Below we will explore each response:
This response is one of the most common ones. The receiver makes a judgement about the motive, personality, reasoning, etc of the sender by evaluating the message sent. It tends to results in one of two ways: "You're right" or "You're wrong" . The receiver makes themself appear qualified to tell the sender what s/he should be doing. It's best to work on avoiding this because it is prone to cause defensiveness. Instead of wording things "You are.." you could word them "I feel.." as an opinionated response is less likely to backfire. Save these types of responses for when someone has specifically asked for you
to make a judgment or when you feel like disclosing your personal values and beliefs.
This response is commonly misunderstood even though it is a part of the evaluative/judging response. Constructive feedback can be misinterpreted as criticism. Critisim in and of itself holds a negative connotation- meaning it is thought of in a negative light. Criticism can be good, helpful even in producing changes, but it may not always be pleasant.
Groeder suggests that if one seeks to give constructive feedback that is not perceived as destructive, there are a few points we must recognize:
- Emphasis on behavior rather than personality.
Concentrate on a persons actions/words rather than who you deem them as. Do not label others.
- Stay away from "YOU" messages .
"YOU" messages come off as accusing if not used correctly. "YOU are wrong", "YOU should have", etc. Imagine someone thrusting a finger in your face, this is what "you" messages do. Instead, put a personal spin on the way you word things: "I feel..", "I think..", etc.
- Focus on OBSEVATIONS and not JUDGMENTS.
This goes hand in hand with the last one. If you use judgments as your basis you are being
subjective. There's a difference between saying "I don't agree with your post" and
"You're the biggest idiot I've ever met". Reporting what actually occured is giving objective feedback- the ideal type.
- Avoid using criticism when angry.
Your anger will outweigh your message every time. Express yourself through facts and not emotions.
- Share ideas rather than give advice.
Sharing ideas gives options to other and decreases the amount of defenciveness you'll get in return.
And if you are on the receiving end of criticism here are some key pointers for you:
- LISTEN. Don't automatically get defensive when someone critizises you.
- ANALYZE THE CRITICISM . Is the information factually correct? Is the critic mostly venting? Can you sympathize with anything that was said with or without accepting the content of the message?
- DECIDE. If the criticm is accurate, remedy the situation and prevent recurrances. If you decide you were wrong, or that you will change a behavior, let the critic know.
This is a response where one offers a solution to others. It can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing. We, as humans, have a tendency to tell others what WE would do in THEIR place and how we would respond to given situations. It's part of that whole empathy thing, you know? But they might not want to hear what we would do, in most cases they may just need someone to lend a listening ear as they express their thoughts.Giving advice can lead to problems, as you may get blamed if your advice doesn't work! Always strive to make sure that your advice is correct, that the other person specifically wants your advice,
and that the other person will accept the responsibility for chosing to follow your said advice.
Cline suggests two sentences :
I wonder if it would be helpful to..
Rather then "If I were you, I would.."
Do you think it would be beneficial to..
Rather then "You really should.."
This response can be seen as insightful or offensive. It depends on a multitude of things. It can offer a person another way of looking at his or her situation. This is generally seen as the receiver trying to tell the sender what they did right or wrong. These are best perceived by another person when you make suggestions intstead of trying to give absolutes, such as:
I don't think you really mean to say that..
Maybe you're really feeling..
It sounds to me like what's bother you is..
This response is the receiver's intent to show empathy and reassure/comfort the sender. These are statements such as "it's okay", "it's not that bad", "there's really nothing to worry about" . Sometimes it's just simpler to say "l et's talk about the way you feel and why" rather than try to assure someone of something that you may not be qualified to pass judgement on. These types of statements are perceved better when they are sincere and helpful with good intent. Do not use supportive responses in a joking manner or you may end up hurting the other person.
This is where the receiver probes the sender for more information, and wishes to discuss the topic further. (Ex: How do you feel about that? Why is that? ) This is a key step in the process of understanding. One should always ask for clarification if they feel they do not understand the message content of the sender. There are two types of questions: Open Questions and Closed Questions.
Open questions: provide space for the sender to express a thought or idea in a wordy response
Closed questions : seek only yes/no answers
When questioning it is important to avoid interregating a person, as this will come off negatively. It is also important to refrain from manipulation. You can ask TOO many questions.
The final response, indicating that a receiver is seeking to or does fully understand the message. This is the most effective way of responding to others, and as such it requires specific skills. (Emphathetic and active listening).
"If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I hve learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood" -Stephen Covey
Hopefully through reading this you will begin to think about your responses and how they are perceived by others before commenting on something.