Know someone who’s been complaining lately of feeling misunderstood, judged, or even avoided? Do they seem to think that nobody likes them and that the world is just unfair? Do you sometimes find yourself wondering why you’re still friends with them? Well…perhaps there are things they’re doing that contribute to making a mess of their relationships. Peruse this list of common communication errors and see if anything jumps out at you (because you’ve heard your friend say them a million times)…go ahead, I’ll wait…
They insist that they’re right and everybody else is just plain wrong. “I know what I’m talking about. You’re mistaken.”
They let everyone know that their problem is the other person’s fault. “If Lucky hadn’t dropped the ball, none of us would be in this mess, especially me.
They argue, get defensive, and refuse to admit any shortcomings. “I don’t care what you say. This is not my problem. You always accuse me of never saying sorry, but why should I when I know it’s not my fault?”
They try to convince everybody that they are the victim of some other person. “Rupert is out to get me. He is the devil. I can’t seem to make anybody see that he’s the bad guy. Everybody’s against me because of his lies. He’ll do anything to make me look like a jerk.”
They put people down to make them feel inferior or ashamed: “Stupid,” “Liar,” “Loser,” “Idiot,” etc. “It’s no wonder this place is so terrible. If they’d hire you, they clearly have no standards. I’m embarrassed to work here.”
They are sarcastic, belittling and patronizing. “I bet you don’t even understand what I’m saying, do you? I’m wasting my breath, trying to get my point across to your tiny little brain.”
They respond to criticism by criticizing the other person. “I may be lazy, but at least I’m not a total basket case like you.”
They change the subject by bringing up past grievances. “Well, let’s not forget how many times you’ve taken me for granted over the past twenty days, months, years…”
They act like they blame themselves and say they’re terrible to prevent the other person from criticizing them. “I know. I’m such a loser. It’s all my fault.”
They act like they’ve tried everything, and nothing seems to work out for them. “No matter what I do, I can’t win. I try and I try. I have the worst luck. I just can’t ever catch a break.”
They accuse the other person of not doing or being what they expect they “should.” “You should know better than to say something like that to me after all I’ve been through.”
They pretend that they’re not really upset about the problem. ” No, really, I’m fine. Just drop it. I honestly don’t care.”
Instead of listening to the other person, they give advice. “There’s no way I’d put up with that. You should just leave him.”
They try to fix the problem by going around the other person. “I’ll handle this. It’s just easier if I do it myself.”
They give the silent treatment to the offending party. “………………..,“ followed by, “………………..” Day four, “…………………”
They expect other people to know what they think and how they feel, without ever having to tell them. “How could you not have known that I was depressed on the day you wanted me to help you install your new hard drive?? Anybody else would have been more sensitive of my feelings on the tenth anniversary of My Very Bad Hair Day 2002 and tried to cheer me up. I shouldn’t have to draw you a picture when something’s wrong with me. You should just know.”
No doubt, you saw your friend’s go-to behaviors somewhere on this list, originally created by David D. Burns, MD. And, maybe you saw yourself in some of these examples as well. Not to worry, we all do one or two of these things (some of us more than others) and they can be fixed. Really. We learn to cope with stressful or painful situations in maladaptive ways in childhood as a way to protect/defend ourselves, if we’re not supported and validated and taught otherwise by our parents and caregivers. As adults, we continue to behave in these ways, even when they obviously don’t serve a positive function in our lives, because we don’t know how to do anything else. Old wounds run deep. It’s hard to change our ways without significant help from outside ourselves. No matter how clearly we may understand the problem(s) we face, sometimes we need to call in a professional to get things fixed…like, say, a counselor or life coach.
The truth is, sometimes I’m a jerk. I can be an insensitive, self-serving know-it-all. The thing is, I really believe LSRG‘s quote of the week that’s posted in our lobby here in Orlando. It’s from Leo Tolstoy: Each person’s task in life is to become an increasingly better person. That’s why there are counselors and life coaches, and that’s what we’re dedicated to helping you do. If you caught glimpses of yourself or your significant other, boss, or co-worker while reading this blog; and you fell you need to learn how to deal with relationships more effectively, give us a call at 407-355-7378. We’ll set you up with a free phone consultation with the counselor or life coach that’s right for you. And if you ever catch me being a jerk, *please* let me know. I’m working on it. Namaste.
To read more about: David D. Burns, MD