Roadblocks to Communication

Roadblocks to Communication


Without thinking almost everyone uses the following Roadblocks to Communication without even considering how ineffective they are. They’re so common they’re not even noticed. They’re reactive, very common and automatic. And, for sure, THEY DON’T WORK!

  1. Ordering, Directing, Commanding
  2. Warning, Admonishing, Threatening
  3. Exhorting, Moralizing, Preaching
  4. Advising, Giving suggestions and solutions
  5. Lecturing, Giving “logical” arguments
  6. Judging, Criticizing, Disagreeing, Blaming
  7. Praising, Agreeing
  8. Name-calling, Ridiculing, Shaming
  9. Interpreting, Analyzing, Diagnosing
  10. Reassuring, Sympathizing, Consoling, Supporting
  11. Probing, Questioning, Interrogating
  12. Withdrawing, Distracting, Humoring, Diverting
  13. Bribing

1) Ordering, Directing, Commanding

Telling a person what to do doesn’t allow for the “give and take” needed for cooperation. If you’ve had a part in forming the solution, you’re more likely to take an active role in implementing it. If you’re ordered to do something you’re more likely to become oppositional and defiant. When directed to do or not to do something, you feel like you’ve got no say…and you likely don’t. You don’t count. Your feelings and needs are immaterial.

These messages tell you that you must comply and resistance is futile. You must submit to superior power. And, if you don’t comply, then you’ll face wrath, ostracism, shunning or many other unpleasant consequences. You’re being bossed around, led, and corralled. You have no freedom over your actions; you’re nothing but a programmable robot. You’re implicitly told that your ideas and way of doing things are even considered. Your autonomy is denied.

The result of these messages is that you’re first hurt, then , almost immediately, angry. Angry prisoners scuttle outcomes. These messages bring out passive-aggressive counter-measures – “Yah, I’ll cooperate because I have no choice but I’ll do the least I can get away with and I’ll take forever to do it if I even do it at all.” To keep face, resistance to the orders is nearly automatic.

These messages teach the bossed that they’re not trusted, not deemed bright enough to guide their own behavior and that they’re not to trust their own problem-solving because they never get to exercise it. Compliance over time makes one feel defeated and so one quits “kissing ass” and withdraws into lethargy, depression or escape.

2) Warning, Admonishing, Threatening

These messages teach you to be paranoid…either of the person using them or of some unknowable negative outcome about to befall you.

“Says who? You?” and “That’s Bullshit!” are the defiant responses to dire warnings, indicating that the person warned doesn’t see it the same way. Who gets to set reality…and one’s response to it?

A more passive-aggressive defiance to admonishments comes out as “I don’t care what you think the con sequence are; I’m still gonna do it anyway.”

These messages evoke resentment and hostility just as did Talker Stoppers #1.

Warning, Admonishing and Threatening statements may generate just the opposite reaction than intended: “Okay, I’ll try doing it just to prove you’re wrong!” It’s almost like a dare: “I’ll do it despite your warning because I don’t think anything bad will happen like you say.”

3) Exhorting, Moralizing, Preaching

Who likes getting preached at? “I should? – well screw that! I’m not going to ‘should’ on myself;” “I don’t believe what you believe anyway;” and “When did God die and tell you to tell me what to do or not do?”

Exhorting, Moralizing and Preaching puts whoever is trying to pull it off into a grandiose position of superiority and arrogant stance: “I’m smarter, wiser, more experienced than you so I’ll paternalistically save you from making a mistake; I’ll save you from yourself.”

If the recipient of such messages takes them seriously their self-confidence sags because their substituting their own judgment for some one else’s. They may take the injunctions as absolutes and feel guilty and bad when they don’t live up to the ideal.

4) Advising, Giving suggestions and solutions

These roadblocks are most typically used by a male to a female. Rather than listening, tries to “fix” the female by giving her unasked advice or suggestions. Too often such messages are rote formulas, clichés, over-learned patterns and therefore fairly useless in real life. Almost inevitably these messages set up a “Why don’t you…Yah but” game. The stimulus: “Why don’t you try exercising because you know it’s good for you.” The response, “Yah, I would but….” Excuses beat unsolicited suggestions. In the “Yah but” game the reasons why the suggestion won’t work always outnumber the reasons why it would so the would-be problem-solver looses and feels unheard, unappreciated and put down.

When a solution is off-based, the recipient wonders, “How in the world did he come up with that; He doesn’t know me; He hasn’t got a clue; He’s a real controlling ….!”

5) Lecturing, Giving “logical” arguments

This is the “I’m smarter than you” game.

No one likes to be “lectured.”