When I say X, I mean Y!

I just got off the phone with a colleague. She was on the way to a meeting to try to work out a conflict. I got the background, but not much detail. All I needed to hear was that there is a “communication problem”.

These things happen all the time. It is surprising, therefore, how frequently we fail to deal with communication breakdown when it happens.

Let’s be blunt for a moment. Not all communication has equal value. So when I hear, “let’s talk.” I start getting nervous. Why do we need to “talk”? Is there a problem? Of course, there is. And if there is a problem, it will affect how well we can communicate. At that moment, we should be on our guard. We are likely to start talking trash. And that just makes the underlying problem worse.

So a lesson to be learned — learn when not to listen. You stop listening to substance when you are confident that it has no value in coping with underlying problems.

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