12 Communication Stoppers

I. The Twelve Big Communication Stoppers:
A. Judging 1. Criticizing 2. Name-Calling B. Sending Solutions C. Avoidance 10. Detouring 11. Logical Argument 12. Reassuring

5. Ordering
6. Threatening 7. Moralizing 8. Intrusive Questioning 9. Advising

3. Diagnosing 4. Praising to Manipulate

II. The Twelve Big Communication Stoppers (Explained):
A. Judging 1. Criticizing: Blaming the other person for their actions or attitudes. 2. Name-Calling: Stereotyping the other person, after which we usually stop listening.

3. Diagnosing: Playing psychologist - analyzing what And Think! the other is saying or doing, instead of listening to what they are saying. Examples are telling the other person that they are being “defensive” or have some kind of “complex.” 4. Praising to Manipulate: Praise is a good thing, however it can be used to manipulate other people to get them to do or continue doing what we want them to do. We can sometimes know we are doing this when the other person down plays the praise by saying “It was okay” or “I could have done it better.”
B. Sending Solutions We want to help other people and solve their problems, but sometimes they just want to have someone listen.

5. Ordering: Sometimes we try to force our solution on others, which creates an atmosphere of resentment and resistance. It can also lead to the other person trying to sabotage the forced solution because they feel you are telling them that their ideas are no good.

6. Threatening: Similar to “Ordering“ but with an “or else“ for punishment added. This has many of the same problems as ordering somebody to do something. 7. Moralizing: Telling somebody what he or she “Should” or “Ought” to do. Creates anxiety and resentment and, like “Ordering” and “Threatening,” tends to lower the other persons self-esteem. 8. Intrusive Questioning: When lots of questions are asked, in a rapid fire “machinegun” manner, people tend to back off and stop trying to communicate. Also questions can be accusatory. Try to ask questions that don’t force the other person into a corner and also try to space your questions out. 9. Advising: This is an easy trap to fall into. We usually don’t have all the information we need to tell the other person what needs to be done and besides quite often they just want someone to listen to them. C. Avoidance 10. Diverting: This is simply “changing the topic of conversation.” This often begins with “speaking of” or “that reminds me.” This may be because you are uncomfortable with the topic of conversation or you’re distracted by your own thoughts, but the result is the same; the other person is not being heard. 11. Logical Argument: When the other person is talking of, what for them is an emotional issue, and you go all “Mr. Spock” on them and talk of facts and logic. The other person tends to feel alienated and, quite often, ignored. 12. Reassuring: This seems to be a nice thing to do, but people tend to feel threatened anytime any deeply held opinion about themselves is challenged, no matter how wrong or bad the belief seems to others. Quite often the reassurance is on the surface and does not take into account the reasons for the belief. The comforter fails to understand the true depth of the belief. In the end all it is, is an easy way for us to feel that we are being helpful.

III. The Biggest Communication Stopper:
We all are guilty of using all of the above “Communication Stoppers,” but telling others that they are using them will result in less communication, instead of the better communication that we hoped for. A the same time it is important that you don’t get overcritical of yourself when you find yourself using one these “Communication Stoppers.” Like everyone you have made mistakes in the past and, sorry to break it to you, you will make mistakes in the future. Life is a work in progress. What is important is that by being aware of what can go wrong, you have an opportunity to improve.
(This handout is based upon the work of Thomas Gordon as described in the book People Skills by Robert Bolton, Ph.D.) BWR 2/13/2006

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