Yelling, slammed doors, dead silence. Hurt, frustration, anger. Is this how your attempt to have a well-meaning conversation ends? Especially with the important people in your life? It may seem hopeless, but there is way!
We’re all different—from our looks to our tastes, what we value and couldn’t care less about. When it comes down to communicating, even that we do differently. If we don’t recognize the way each person perceives and processes information, conversations can quickly deteriorate into heated exchanges, ending in hurt, frustration, or anger. Since good communication is KEY in successful relationships, how well versed you are in recognizing and learning how to navigate through these differences can eventually make or break your relationships.
Allow me to share our personal experience that took us to the brink of calling it quits for EAL more than a handful of times. Communication between Lisa and me had been difficult and challenging. Behind the scenes—yelling, slammed doors, and dead silence. However, as co-founders of the company with a shared mission, we were determined to find a way to communicate peacefully, authentically, and with much compassion. Fortunately, we did!
We came to understand that there is a way to achieve a harmonious exchange of words, ideas, and opinions. We realized that the standard “effective communication skills” were simply not enough. The breakthrough came when we finally recognized that we were operating from two different parts of our brains. It wasn’t that I was right, she was wrong, or vice versa. We were finally able to lay down our old tools that had become quite sharpened and re-equip ourselves with a palate full of peaceful, authentic, and compassionate colors.
The Emotional vs. The logical brain
Let me introduce you to the right-brain and left-brain communication. I process information predominantly through my emotions—my right-brain. Lisa, on the other hand, is primarily left-brained. She is very logical and analytical. My emotions somehow have to connect to her logic.
Now for the juicy stuff. Below, I am sharing a picture of our different brains at work. You will see what we discovered. It was the beautiful turning point.
Let’s look at the Emotional Brain. As I already confessed, I “think” my way through feelings. When I need to make a decision, it will be by using my senses. In order for me to say yay or nay, it has to feel right. You may ask if I actually think. Yes, I do. Very much so! The difference is that I won’t make my decision based on logical confines. When I communicate, I use words loosely to express how I feel and that on its own, is a flow, not the final thought. So when I converse, my way of expressing will be more of a movement of a beautiful stroll through the park in spring, admiring every little change that has happened. I skirt from one place to the next, finally arriving at a destination as I feel it resonating with my whole being. Naturally, that means my message might bring about a completely different feeling for someone else hearing it.
Lisa with the logical brain, weighs out facts, circumstances, and ideas, and takes all of that information to a logical conclusion. When she writes or presents an idea, her goal is to make sure that a very specific message is being delivered, leaving no room for misinterpretation. There’s no consideration of whether her words feel any particular way; rather, she is guided by whether the words used produce a logical flow that must ultimately lead to a specific conclusion. This isn’t to say that she doesn’t consider the impact such a logical message might have on another’s feelings. She may fine-tune her words to be less hurtful, but that process is not guided by feelings; only her logical conclusion of what a person might feel from her words.
So what happens when the emotional and logical brain don’t connect well? It isn’t pretty!
The Recipe For Disaster
Usually, by my first stop to admire the small but exquisite changes that appeared on the path, Lisa would get stuck and interrupt my flow in trying to connect the dots for her logical brain. Not to mention my loose use of words which took us into arguing over the meaning of a word. Even googling its definition, we still somehow managed to prove that we were both right! Between my skirting and words, things went south and within minutes, we’d find ourselves in a heated exchange completely off topic.
Here was the problem – the more Lisa interrupted me from my illogical flow and needing the “right” words, the more I shut down because I wasn’t able to freely express myself. I felt like a tied up racehorse trying to get out of the gate to run wild with my ideas. I felt stymied, unheard and misunderstood. Likewise, she was completely exasperated, because to her, I made no sense, yet she was expected to be the messenger of what was in my head. Of course, I made it clear that she was the problem while she was just as convinced that I held the key. If we were lucky enough to rein ourselves in, we then had to spend time trying to find our way back to each other and the topic itself—an entirely exhausting process. We didn’t always make it to the finish line, but if we did, believe me, we both felt the battle wounds.
At Last An Amicable Solution
After almost two years of communicating from our own language expression and dabbling into the other’s after seeing how we process and express (the picture above), we finally discovered the miracle key!
How does a typical conversation and writing together go now? I make sure to remind Lisa not to get stuck on a word. I also remind her that I don’t take words as seriously or literally as she does. Lisa has also adopted the strategy of letting me “flow” for a while, knowing that eventually, I’ll land somewhere that makes sense to her. Sometimes, that’s 180 degrees from where I seemingly started. You can see how challenging that would be for a logical brain! I keep that in mind so when she does pause me, I recognize that I also need to give her some clarification before she gets too lost.
As for the blending of our writing styles… well, as I like to say, it has to sound “sexy,” meaning we leave room for self-interpretation and self-fitting. That’s a great way for allowing one to deepen their own understanding and connection to the material in harmony with their own beliefs and needs. Did you notice how I used the word “sexy” to explain the need for self-interpretation? Clearly, “sexy” has a completely different definition, but to me it’s the perfect word that represents freedom of expression and experience. Of course, Lisa will make sure that there’s proper structure so the readers won’t get lost in my “stroll in the park” along with polishing the words and grammar. Take all of that, put it together and here you have it – this article.
A word of caution for the logical brainers: Since the feelers feel everything, they are the ones that will most likely shut down and need to end the conversation. Their emotions will flood them like huge waves coming one after the next. Thinkers, on the other hand, can compartmentalize much better since their emotions are held at bay. They can keep pushing forward, becoming the force behind the towering waves. Hence, I would caution thinkers to be uber aware, and give your feeling person the space they need.
If you’re struggling with similar issues, you now know of the way forward as long as both parties are willing to change. When you can both find that beautiful blend where you collaborate using your strengths instead of trying to pigeon hole the other into your brain, you can peacefully co-create a masterpiece of authentic communication. Quite rewarding!
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