8 JANUARY 2001

There are characteristic ways in which we avoid or distort real and effective communication especially when we're talking about conflict and change. When you are dealing with colleagues or partners, which of these methods do you use? 

Miscommunication Styles

The Avoider
The avoider refuses to fight. When a conflict arises, he
*ll leave, fall asleep, pretend to be busy at work, or keep from facing the problem in some other way. This behavior makes it very difficult for another to express his feelings of anger, hurt, etc. because the avoider won*t fight back.

The Guilt Maker
Instead of saying straight out that he doesn
*t want or approve of something, the guilt maker tries to change his partner*s behavior by making him feel responsible for causing pain. The guilt maker*s favorite line is: "It*s O.K., don*t worry about me accompanied by a big sigh.

The Subject Changer
Really a type of avoider, the subject changer escapes facing up to aggression by shifting the conversation whenever it approaches an area of conflict. Because of his tactics, the subject changer and his partner never have the chance to explore their problem and do something about it.

The Mind Reader
Instead of allowing another to honestly express feelings, the mind reader goes into character analysis, explaining what the other person really means or what
*s wrong with the other person. By behaving this way the mind reader refuses to handle his own feelings and leaves no room for the other person to express himself.

The Withholder
Instead of expressing his anger honestly and directly, the withholder punishes his partner by keeping back something
courtesy, affection, good cooking, humor, sex. As you can imagine, this is likely to build up even greater resentments in the relationship.

The Trapper
The trapper plays an especially dirty trick by setting up a desired behavior for his partner, and then when it
*s met, attacking the very thing he requested. An example of this technique is for the trapper to say: "Let*s be totally honest with each other," and then when the partner shares his feelings he finds himself attacked for having feelings that the trapper doesn*t want to accept.

The Gunnysacker
This person doesn
*t respond immediately when he*s angry. Instead, he puts his resentment into his gunnysack, which after a while begins to bulge with large and small gripes. Then when the sack is about to burst, the gunnysacker pours out all his pent-up aggressions on the overwhelmed and unsuspecting victim.

The Trivial Tyranniser
Instead of honestly sharing his resentments, the trivial tyranniser does things he knows will get his partner
*s goat: leaving dirty dishes in the sink, clipping his fingernails in bed, belching out loud, turning up the television too loud, and so on.

The Joker
Because he
*s afraid to face conflicts squarely, the joker kids around when his partner wants to be serious, thus blocking the expression of important feelings.

The Beltliner
Everyone has a psychological "beltline", and below it are subjects too sensitive to be approached without damaging the relationship. Beltlines may have to do with physical characteristics, intelligence, past behavior or deeply ingrained personality traits a person is trying to overcome. In an attempt to "get even" or hurt his partner the beltliner will use his intimate knowledge to hit below the belt, where he knows it will hurt.

The Kitchen Sink Fighter
This person is so named because in an argument he brings up things that are totally off the subject ("everything, but the kitchen sink"): the way his partner behaved last New Year
*s Eve, the unmade bed anything.

Source not known


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