Communication is good, right? Personally, I feel it’s near impossible to have a healthy, rewarding relationship without it. Sure, the level of required communication depends on your degree of familiarity with the person you’re communicating with. But, can open communication be destructive, even when the communicator believes they are giving a helpful message for the receiver? Consider what you are about to convey, and then try to predict how your recipient is going to react. Is the message volatile or sensitive enough to destroy the relationship you currently have? If so, it’s best to think twice. Sounds easy enough, right?
Take this story, for instance. I know a woman that, for her whole life, carried resentment about how her father raised her. This story begins when she was 50 years old and her father was 72. She felt she had not been nurtured and supported as much as she needed when she was growing up. Her father was a”hard-liner”. All of us know the type. She pointed out many of the shortcomings in her life and how she felt he was the cause of them because she “didn’t get what she needed from him”. She pointed these things out in a very polite manner; obviously assuming her dad would understand and feel compassion for her. What really happened was quite the opposite. The father was very upset after reading her letter and felt he was being assaulted. What was once an acceptable relationship was now broken beyond repair. At the time the daughter wrote the letter, she believed it would help her to get those things off her chest and did not take the time to contemplate how her father would cope with such things.
The case above could be considered”bad communication” as it damaged the connection it had been intended to improve. Here are some things you may want to take into account before initiating a conversation with a person, especially when your message contains sensitive, blaming, Bat Poop or potentially negative information.
1. What do you expect to accomplish with your message?
2. Try to predict how your audience will respond. Are you ready for an unexpected outcome?
3. Is it so important that you get your message across that it’s worth the risk of breaking the connection? Sometimes it may be, like a case with a friend or spouse.
4. If you predict that your message can cause undesirable results, you may choose to use a good friend or relative as a sounding board, so that you can clear your thoughts of your thoughts. Even more so, it can be quite useful for you to write the person a letter but not deliver it. I think this works better than spilling your guts to another party.
5. You can ask advice from a close friend or relative (especially if they know the receiver of the message). But always make the final decision about what to do. Your advisor likely has nothing to lose and might not give you appropriate advice in the matter.
For that reason, care should always be taken on how to communicate sensitive information. I think it always depends upon the circumstances. Sometimes you need to choose to hold back or lose the relationship.