Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 4, no. 9
Do you Know Your Communication Style Under Stress?
|Learning to communicate effectively is crucial for your professional career success.
Read this article for tips on what to look for in today’s fast-paced work environments.
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The Importance of Communication at Work
Effective communication is one of the most challenging and yet most crucial skills for success in your career. But it’s not easy in practice. If you’ve left a stressful project meeting or finished a conversation with a coworker or family member wondering “what just happened?” — you’re not alone.
In their book, Crucial Conversations, Kerry Patterson and his co-authors argue that knowing your own style under stress is a key element of effective communication.
Barriers to Communicating in the Workplace
Workplace conditions increase the difficulty of communication in a variety of ways. There may be lack of information. You may be affected by external pressures such as impossible deadlines, unclear expectations, and unanticipated problems.
You may work in groups in dispersed locations with differences in personal, professionals, and cultural backgrounds. Diverse views, values, and agendas all contribute to the complexity of communication in today’s workplace.
Once you get to know the people you work with, it becomes easier to recognize and adapt to their patterns of communication. You may be able to predict and accommodate their responses. But how do you communicate effectively in less familiar and unpredictable situations?
Communicating Under Stress
In stressful situations, the activation of the fight, flight, or freeze responses gets in the way of effective communication. Stress responses interfere with listening and processing complex information. These authors discuss this in their book, and use the words “silence” and “violence” to contrast the two types of communication style that occur under stress.
Silence as a Communication Style
Silence is defined as “any act to purposefully withhold information from the pool of meaning”.
This style is practiced in 3 ways: masking, avoiding, or withdrawing.
If you know someone who relies on jokes to express their opinions, that is an example of masking. An example of avoiding would be changing the subject. Withdrawing is self-explanatory. You exit the conversation.
Violence as a Communication Style
In this model, communication violence is defined as “trying to force meaning into the pool” and propose controlling, labeling, and attacking as common examples. Controlling can occur through exaggeration or by cutting people off. If we label groups or ideas it easier to disregard them.
Attacking occurs when the communication shifts from the content to the person.
Recognizing your Style
It is always easier to recognize patterns in others than in ourselves. But if you observe your own style and get to know your typical responses, especially under pressure, you are in a better position to adapt to your current communication situation. Increasing your awareness of your own style allows you to make choices about how you communicate in different situations. This will lead to being a more influential communicator.
Find out More
To explore this topic further, check out the 33-item quiz (Your Style Under Stress Test) in Chapter 4 of Crucial Conversations or visit the website crucialconversations.com