With any communication you must first think of your desired outcome
By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | November 4, 2012 Standing to the side and finding fault is easy when you are not caught in the middle of the fray. It’s easy to watch an instant replay and point out exactly what went wrong. It is hard for some to admit wrongdoing when they are upset, frustrated, angry, mad or just plain wrong. For many years now I have commented on my own shortcomings in the patience department for the whole world to see and learn from. I mean, who knows more than me when I’ve lost it and said angry, hurtful things to members of my immediate family. Not being the culprit this time, I was able to witness a classic frustration outburst with a like response from another.
Our back door lock has been slipping lately and becoming harder to lock or unlock. My husband has been preoccupied with work issues and has been putting off the doorknob repair in favor of more pressing issues. Sunday our daughter Chelsey stormed into the room mad-faced and shrieking loudly, “Dad, you locked the door again! That’s a FIRE HAZARD!” To complete the scene my husband stomped into the room yelling even louder than she, defending himself and determined to win this verbal match, then heads to the back door. With our daughter being twenty-nine, I left her to deal with the incident she created. While my husband worked on the doorknob and lock I talked with Chelsey about her “shrieking.” She didn’t think she was that loud but I reminded her that the person yelling cannot actually hear themselves yell. I asked her what happened and she responded that he had locked the door again. (He hadn’t locked the door, the latch is broken.) I asked her if she expected a pleasant response from her father after she yelled like that. Looking sheepish she replied, “Not really.”
Taking time to formulate a request, comment or question takes even more thought when we are angry or upset. The golden key is often found by focusing on the ultimate goal— the desired response of the other party involved. That wonderful golden key opens many doors! When you call a business to request them to make a repair on your water heater, furnace or garage door, you don’t start out rude, loud, complaining or blaming. Your goal is to get the heater repairperson on your side and to come out as soon as possible so your heater is fixed. Which phone call would you rather receive?
“Yes, Mable, I don’t think John put all the parts back in our furnace, when is he going to fix his mistake?”
“Hello Mable, how’ve you been? Our furnace made an odd sound then just quit on us. I just know you will be able to help me…”
When you call a local or state agency like an animal control officer, zoning department or health department, your focus should be on your goal, the desired response you are looking for. You want the animal control officer to catch a strange, unleashed dog with no collar and perhaps find the owner. You don’t start out by badmouthing a particular breed of dog and airing your fears.
“Animal Control? You’ve a dangerous pit bull you need to kill. My taxes pay your salary…”
“Hi, this is Betty over on Washington and King Streets, there is an unaccompanied dog I’m concerned may be lost.”
Focusing on the golden key— the desired response you hope for— will help guide you in formulating your request, comment or question. Calming down can help— we think more clearly when we’re calm. Frustration and anger can get in your way when communicating with anyone, especially family. You will want to first understand the situation or what others are saying. There could be a simple misunderstanding or other information or facts that are not know. Remember those old FBI movies, “Just the facts ma’am!” Calm discussion can erase misunderstandings in an instant— plus our own feeling silly if we are in error! When you get down to brass tacks, wouldn’t you like to extend the same kindness to family that you afford to neighbors, friends or acquaintances? Put another way, shouldn’t your family feel as respected and safe in your home as anyone else that you know? By the way, there was no fire hazard this weekend and a new latch has been ordered. Just for the record, my daughter Chelsey is really very sweet but she has our anger genes two-fold, bless her heart.
Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.
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