eradicating emotional abuse

He arrived a half hour late and offered no apology for the rudeness. He sat back from the table, alternately leaning back in the chair with his arms reaching behind his head or rubbing his eyes with his hands. His eyes wandered, expressing boredom and disinterest in the conversation. He said nothing during the whole meeting.

He was not there as an observer. He was there to discuss a partnership, a potential working agreement with the other attendees. His supervisor was also in the room.

No one confronted him. No one asked if he had a problem or if there was some reason he was not participating or if the meeting should be re-scheduled. The meeting continued with tension in the room and without resolution.

The others left with a sense of frustration, time wasted, questions unanswered… and just a hint, down deep, of self-doubt… wondering if somehow they were the cause of that strange behavior, or if somehow they had done something wrong, or if the other was normal behavior and they were the strange ones to expect something different…

From the outside, from a position of healthy relationships, I wanted to scream for them… THAT IS NOT NORMAL BEHAVIOR! In emotionally healthy work environments, people do not act that way at meetings! And if they did, someone would say something to them… quickly!

That was clearly passive aggressive behavior designed to intimidate, discourage, and display lack of respect and value for the others attending the meeting. It was immature, inappropriate and rude behavior.

Sadly, in an isolated setting, without healthy examples around, it is easy to lose perspective and not recognize the harmful behavior. Or when someone has been through too many situations where they are not respected or valued or validated, a person can begin to perceive the negative behaviors as normal. Psychologists sometimes identify this as learned helplessness, and it is common in physical abusive situations also. Others react with anger in return.

How can we teach the ones we care about to recognize emotional abuse when they experience it? How can we help them respond with confidence and control, without allowing the passive aggressive offender to affect their minds or the meeting?

Have you faced situations like this? What would you suggest?

communication styles

The single biggest problem in communication
is the illusion that it has taken place. 

George Bernard Shaw

                                                                                                                                  Communication is essential for all relationships. It is the way we connect with others, the way we explain our needs, wants, values, concerns, fears, and dreams. Poor communication results in misunderstandings, unmet expectations, and conflicts. Healthy communication leads to cooperation, mutual understanding and intimacy.

We learn to communicate at a very young age. We develop different communication styles based on our personality and our experiences, and we develop communication skills that facilitate the style that works best for us.

This week I learned about a Communication Style Model that identifies four different communication styles. The study explains that we develop a primary style that we use most often, and sometimes we employ a secondary style if the primary isn’t working well or we are under stress. The study also describes how we can interact better with others who use a style different from ours.

Can you identify your primary style?

Each style has important inherent strengths, but none is complete by itself. There is much to appreciate in each; we are better when we have all styles working together. When we communicate with a person whose style is different from ours, it is helpful to match their style and pace as much as possible. Those who can adapt and flex to other’s values and preferences will be more successful in communication.

This communication model has helped me understand what others in my family and workplace might need or prefer. I hope I can apply some of what I have learned to our future conversations.

What have you learned from this model? How can you adapt your style to better communicate with someone important to you?


For more information: Communication Style Inventory, Copyright 2003 by Ron Ellis, MBA & Judi Iverson-Gilbert, PhD
You might also like to read: how are your listening skills? or asking powerful questions or questions for a destination.