Learning to communicate. Part One.

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To effectively communicate, we must realise that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.

Tony Robbins.

Some people like to paint a big picture when they talk about their plans and dreams. They know where it is that they want to go and see everything on a big screen or canvas in their mind. They don’t seem to bother about how they are going to get there, to them that just gets filled in along the way somehow. They are full of enthusiasm, drive and energy but can get bored with  the small details in how to get  there and can fail to realise their dream because that is all they do, dream.

Others like to know all the details of how to get there. They cannot see the bigger picture without knowing how it can actually be achieved. What supports and services are going to be required? How is it all going to be possible? They work hard but can often lose sight of what it is that they are working for because they do not hold on to a clear vision of the end result.

Some lucky ones have a balance between the two.

This is just a small example of how we each take in information, understand and communicate it and you can see just by looking at this how two people with such different views of obtaining goals might clash and fail to understand each other.

I have three daughters all born and raised the same way. They share mainly the same values and hold much the same beliefs yet from when they were a very young age I recognized that I had to explain things very differently to each in order for them to fully understand and feel comfortable with any plans that we as a family were making.

My eldest girl is one of the few I have met that automatically balances everything out. When she was starting school I explained to her why children, including her, had to go to school. I told her about all the fun she would have the people she would meet and explained that she would have to go daily, work hard and then when old enough leave and either go get a job or go study more to get a better job. She was quite happy to accept it all as I had given her a complete picture. I had described what the end result of attending school would be and filled in all the little bits in between. My middle girl had exactly the same picture painted for her but she really didn’t want to hear the bits in between. All she was interested in hearing was that she would have fun leave and get a good job. If I tried to explain that it wasn’t simply a case of going and then leaving to automatically get a good job she was bored and not interested. All she needed to hear was what she would get at the end of it all. How that was going to happen really didn’t matter to her. My youngest child was different again .All she focused on were the small details. How was she going to get to school, how long would she be there, why had she to go, how she would learn, how would she be able to pass exams and what happened if she was off? Once she had all that information she was happy but it took me significantly longer to make her feel comfortable with the idea of school because of all the information her mind required to make her feel at ease.

Throughout their childhood and adolescence the pattern was the same whether it was a holiday being discussed or even a simple weekend change of arrangement I had to go through the same procedure with each of them in order to make it harmonious and acceptable to all. Despite their different ways of taking in information they themselves have never clashed. They instead work together to help each other fulfil their goals. Each has learned what information the other needs to achieve their aim and helps them to fill in the “how” or instead shows them the “what” they would get if they went for it.My middle girl is brilliant at pulling the youngest forward towards what she wants as she can see the bigger picture and the youngest is great at filling in all the steps necessary for the middle to reach her goals. Whilst the eldest balances each of her younger siblings’ excesses out and helps keep them both calm and happy. This they have learned through living together and caring enough about each other to communicate well. I have had to learn to do the same as being a “big picture” person. I find filling in all the small details very frustrating yet I have learned to do this to satisfy my youngest daughters need for such information. In turn I have really appreciated her help in teaching me how to fill in all the blanks in my projects, helping me find a way to get there.

Learning how to fully communicate with the important people in your life is not about changing your beliefs, values or ideas but more about changing how you present them to others and making them easier for that person to understand. Sometimes we come across apparent blocks and can get in to unnecessary arguments when trying to explain what it is that we want just because of our communication styles are clashing and the other person simply does not see the picture we are painting or doesn’t see how we can achieve it. By recognizing what it is that they need in order to process information we help not only them but ourselves and that is surely worth learning?

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