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Driving Communication

This photo is of one of most twisty roads in the world. It is the Trollstigen in Rauma, Norway and drivers wind back and forth, accelerating in the straightaways and decelerating as they approach the sharp curves. It is guaranteed to be a wild ride for anyone who ventures there.

Sometimes, when we communicate our thoughts, we can talk in pathways that lead us up twisty roads toward unseen mountaintops. We speed up and slow down, emphasis the challenges, and talk about how painful it is to constantly to be stepping on the breaks when what we really want is a straightaway to speed us to the final destination.

Some people drive communication in this type of twisting and turning because they are verbal thinkers who need to hear themselves speak in order to gain insight for the discussion. When the speaker (driver) is sharing their experiences, their concerns, their hurts, their perspectives, and their solutions, the listener (passenger) can become impatient with the twists and turns and will interrupt with questions. These distractions may cause conflict because the speaker who is trying to drive up the twisting road must detour to answer a question that is not a part of the planned journey. It's feels to the driver like they are racing up the hill and they just got a flat. The curse words that follow are the reaction to the interruption, not necessary what is being asked. The driver's reaction results in the listener feeling put off, placated, or ignored. The driver remains focused on what they are saying as they hurry toward the destination, which is their concluding thought (the point they are trying to make). The listener must go along for the ride, patiently not interrupting, and is required to listen to every twist and turn, speed up and slow down, until the final thought has been processed to its final conclusion. THAT is the point they are trying to make. THAT is what the speaker wants you to hear. Unfortunately, the passengers have fallen asleep half-way up the road or are more concerned about their own thoughts and feelings of hurt, defensiveness, and disagreements as they impatiently wait for the journey to end. This mis-matched communication repeated over time results in one person constantly feeling misunderstood and the other feeling unheard.

When I work with people who are verbal processors, I show them how to write their questions, concerns, and suggestions on a piece of paper. They can process out loud as they write, contemplate, and ponder away from the person they are trying to speak with. Once they have figured out what the "point" is, they offer the condensed version of their communication for discussion. People will be more willing to patiently listen and may engage more in driven conversations when they know where they are going and they can see the journey's end.


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