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Communication breakdowns

Lines have been crossed. There is an argument, a heated misunderstanding. A partner feels neglected, a potential client goes elsewhere for work. Feelings are hurt.

What do you do?

You have choices.

A. Walk away.

Ignore it. Move on to other tasks and focus your attention elsewhere.

B. Work it out.

Pause to listen and understand the problem. Identify and evaluate the root of the disagreement. Establish a platform for all parties to express ideas, input, grievances, or dissent.

C. Find the lesson.

Look for ways to improve communication so similar misunderstandings can be avoided.

Clear, open communication creates pathways for work to be accomplished, for goals to be reached, and for relationships to be strengthened. With communication breakdowns, issues quickly exacerbate.

Communication is a skill that can be practiced and developed over time. Moments of conflict provide opportunities for teaching, learning, and growth.

Two communication channels

Communication is a cornerstone of healthy, successful relationships. Your ability to communicate affects all aspects of your life: your workplace, at home, in personal relationships, even your vacation.
We can define communication in one of two categories, open or closed channels.
Open channels:
Are clear and direct
Leave less room for misinterpretation and confusion
Energy flows freely
Creativity is encouraged
Closed channels:
Can be vague and dismissive
Result in assumptions and over-analysis
Statement driven
Energy is blocked
Limited exchange of ideas
Communication skills don’t come naturally to everyone but can be practiced and developed in time.
Look for ways to build and promote open channels of communication. Schedule check-ins. Develop mechanisms for feedback. Ask thoughtful questions and take time to listen to the answers.

To fall in love, do this:

A few years ago, a NYTimes piece lured readers with the secret to relational bliss. The author detailed her personal experience based on psychological research claiming to make two strangers fall in love. By asking intimate questions and demanding two individuals spend quality time together — even holding each other’s gaze for four minutes — the pair were believed to cement a relationship.

Of course, relationships take time and care and persistent, almost stubborn commitment. But at the heart of two people choosing to share life and love is curiosity. Curiosity about your partner’s preferences and dreams. Questions that dare to journey beyond the superficial: goals and fears and heartache and hopes.

Not sure where to begin? These 36 questions can help you get started. Or listen to the original NYTimes piece on the Modern Love podcast.

The two most important words you can say today

Praise good work, hard work, reliable work, consistency and creativity — all of the things you’d like to see more of.

Compliment someone’s effort and acknowledge how they are making the world a better place.

Thank a friend, a colleague, a partner, a parent for the contributions they make.

And don’t hesitate to ask for the praise you need, either.

Dr. Laura Trice recommends you say these words more often: thank you.

Asking is an exercise in humility

Asking for help isn’t easy. Asking for money, for guidance, for a ride, for a raise. When we ask for something, we’re admitting there’s a gap, something we don’t have.  “Hey, I don’t have this thing that I really need. Do you?” We lack resources or knowledge or ability, but the person on the receiving end of the question has it. This dynamic can make us feel vulnerable and weak.

Needing help doesn’t indicate flaws. In fact, asking for help can be a sign of strength and growth. Asking is a characteristic of true leaders and gives others the opportunity to shine.

The next time that voice of fear rises when you need help, pause. Recognize you’re on the edge of change and savor the chance to share your work with others.

I just asked for help here. Yes, it was scary! I hate writing asking emails. But the supportive responses I’ve received and the messages of care that have filled my inbox are like cool glasses of iced tea on a hot summer day. People WANT to help. Your friends want to see you succeed, I promise. Give them the opportunity.

Keeping the flame alive

A student saw KEEP THE FLAME ALIVE on a movie poster and asked me, “What is flame and why does it need to be alive?” The movie was about a married couple inviting a stranger into their home to try to spice up their fizzling love life.

I described fire, from the moment you flick a match until the last wisps of smoke float away. “You know how happy you are when you get a new shirt?” I asked. He nodded enthusiastically. “But in time, the shirt gets old and you don’t like it as much?” More agreement. If you don’t take care of fire, it eventually burns out.

Not only fire. Energy, projects, teams, excitement, zest, flavor, curiosity. What’s new is exciting and mysterious. In time, mystique and interest become be replaced with comfort and familiarity. It’s up to you to decide which characteristics best serve you.