SOMETIMES IT IS NOT WHAT YOU SAY, BUT HOW YOU SAY IT
Most people take offense at being told what to do. Telling others how to be and how to feel and what they should do immediately puts them on the defensive. Effectively offering advice is all about communication skills. A small alteration in the language can reduce the degree of defensiveness, increase the ability to be heard and create an effective dialogue. Imagine if you simply asked the person, "I have an opinion, would you like it?" If the relationship is based on trust, then the listener will understand that what you have to say is in their best interest. Furthermore, once they say yes, the onus of responsibility is on them to listen (remember, they said "yes").
One way to understand communication is to view it as a process between people rather than a language process. A defensive reaction is defined as a reaction which occurs when an individual perceives threat or anticipates threat. The person who responds defensively, uses an appreciable portion of energy to defend himself or herself. Besides talking about the topic, he thinks about how he is right, how he may win, and/or how he may avoid or mitigate a perceived attack.
Once a defensive posture is in place, there is usually a defensive reaction in return. Then a circular response ensues, which becomes increasingly destructive. Defensive reactions, in short, elicit defensive listening, which in turn produces postural, facial and verbal cues which raise the defense level of the original communicator.
If the receiver felt that the speaker regarded him with the respect of being asked, "Do you want an opinion", or "I have an idea, do you want it?", or "Do you want to know what I am thinking?" the situation would become less confrontational and the receiver could become better able to concentrate upon the content, the cognitive meanings and the intent of the message. When someone says to me, "ya know what you should do.....my entire self says "mmmmm, really ya know what you should do!" Try asking first before delivering!
What is your reaction when people tell you what you should do?
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