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That’s Not What I Said…

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DOES YOUR TALK PARTNER HAVE DEAD EARS?

“It’s all about you!” repeatedly calls out a crazy driver on the two-way talk highway as he runs you off the road into a ditch again and again. “That’s not what I meant to say!” is a sign that communication has become a battle zone. Of course, “You’ve ruined everything we once had!” may not be crazy or even mixed up. I-types, or Instigator-type communicators, are very strong-willed and strong-minded natural problem solvers. When there is a war of wills, with battling instead of communicating, the bridge of interpersonal trust is blown up…with no real winners in the circle and few or no materials available to rebuild the bridge.

THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL’S BACK, or WHY CAN’T WE FIX OUR RELATIONSHIP?

One partner cried out, “It isn’t working, and it never will!” “Why can’t we fix our relationship?” bellows the opposite partner. Well, your relationship may not be “fixable.” One client put it this way during a couples’ session:

Why doesn’t our relationship get any better? How much therapy, church, or other avenues of self-improvement can really help you? It’s so hard to believe anything that comes out of your mouth. You can’t have a good time, and you get angry so fast, then you leave psychic bodies strewn all around. How come you’re not proud of yourself and your family? I can’t conceive how someone can be that delusional. You live in your own world which can’t, or won’t, include me. It’s difficult for you to find the good in anything.

If you’re battling with anyone, God — or Goddess — is giving you a wake up call.

THAT’S NOT WHAT I SAID…

Over half the time, relationship communications coaching works really well. But sometimes a relationship isn’t going to get any better. How do you know? When you hear, “I can’t live my life like this. I’m an optimist who tries to focus on the positive, but I’m feeling so down and blue.”

Read on for private client quotes as to the causes that make an Empathizer or Instigator partner feel frustrated, worried, and depressed, when relationship communication strategies just aren’t working:

1. LAZINESS. No efforts were made for years. You screwed up a good thing, and created much of this scene yourself. I have to take care of you, and I work far harder at it than you do. You expect me to take care of all the problems you create.

2. LIES. “Everything was my fault!” is the way the focus is flipped back on me. I thought I was going crazy. Now I have difficulty believing a word that comes out of your mouth.

3. UNCHANGING. You’ve made no sincere efforts to change. I give you feedback which could help the situation, but it’s like talking to a wall. It’s easy to blame everyone else for your problems, but we are grasping at straws this time.

4. DICTATING. I’m not going to be afraid of loss, or your threats, and I’m not going to be told what to do. Why do you always make me out to be the bad guy? It’s emotional blackmail!

5. EXCUSES. I’m tired of making excuses and covering up for you.

6. DEAD EARS. I just don’t think you get it. You turn everything around and twist the truth to focus the blame on me. You don’t hear what you don’t care to hear.

7. RANTING AND RAVING. When you get mad, you cut others off at the knees and leave psychic bodies strewn all around.

8. DISTORTION. When confronted, you say, “That’s not what I said or meant!” or you deny allegations to the hilt, even when they’re supported by evidence. I always have to weigh what you say against the reality of what you will do. I am learning to hate second-guessing myself. I shouldn’t have to second-guess myself!

9. LIVING IN LOSS. I can’t live the rest of my life this way. I’m at a loss for words much of the time. I feel like you’re not going to come to my aid, and I feel lost and lonely, without family and friends.

10. BETRAYAL. You used to like the strength of my character, but as I grew as a person, you didn’t want an equal partner who would work with you. Trying to convince me that I’m some kind of statistic or dysfunction won’t brainwash or beat me into resignation. I will not sit home and allow you to dominate my will. I won’t let others think you are something you’re not.

11. ROADBLOCKS. You throw so many roadblocks between us. You’re making it all about you, rather than thinking about my needs. Are you trying to scare me into staying with you, by saying that the end result means that our relationship is terminated? Why do you want to live with someone who doesn’t want to be with you? Why do you start with a conflict 15 minutes before I have to leave for work? Is it because you know I — we — won’t have time to resolve the dispute before I leave, and that it will weigh heavily on my mind all day?

12. COWARDICE. You act like the cowardly lion. You even believe your own lies! You’ve created an “I-Me-Mine World,” and you want everyone to live in your fantasy. I just can’t continue this way any longer.

13. ENERGY. Being with you causes a tremendous drain of my energy, like a hole in my car’s gas tank leaking fuel. You try to manipulate me into thinking what you want me to think. I’m just too tired to go on like this….

14. MISERY. You say you love me, but you act as though you don’t even like me. I would be miserable if I chose to live with someone who doesn’t like me. You don’t like that I make money, have numerous friends, am involved in the community, go on missionary trips. What you like is that someone has been there to take care of your financial needs.

15. LESSER PERSON. If I continued in this oppressive relationship, I would become a bitter person, and I wouldn’t be the best person I can be.

Many unnecessary losses are inflicted by our own hands. If you’re digging a hole, put your shovel down and look around for help.

WHEN THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD

In distressed relationships, it feels like you’re going insane due to all the crazy talk. Crazy talk is talking about a romantic fantasy of how you wish things would be, versus the hard reality of how things really are. Stop second-guessing yourself. You didn’t get where you are in life by making bad choices. You can’t win in this relationship, and you want to become a better, not bitter, person.

ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS PSYCHOLOGIST DENNIS E. O’GRADY, PSY.D.

Dennis O’Grady is the father and developer of the innovative Talk to Me© effective communication system, which streamlines communication to be productive and useful, inside your head and inside your relationships. Although negative relationships and communication accidents plague us all, the Talk to Me© approach to good communication will help boost your mood, keep your energy up, and free you from the tar baby of negative relationships and emotions.

2 Comments »

  1. DELETE THE DISTURBING PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE?

    Have you ever secretly wished you could annihilate all the stupid people in the world? I have, so do tell me the truth. If you had a delete button to eliminate the disturbing people in your life, would you push it? If you could erase all the self esteem-shredding statements which people have said to you, would you? Or would you work with the disturbing emotions and leave alone the people who disturbed you?

    WHY GO NUTS WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE CONTROL

    Do you know anyone who lives by a “whiny manifesto?” Do you know a member of your work or family group who doesn’t think he or she has any problems or issues that need to be dealt with? Who doesn’t….

    Disgruntlements that disturb us mightily, that you and I can change:

    1. I CAN’T LET OTHERS BE MY WORRY. Why should I chronically let others upset and unsettle me with their poor choices?

    2. I CAN’T ALWAYS FIX IT. Why do I have to fix what others unmindfully break?

    3. I CAN’T MAKE YOU MOVE ON AND CHANGE. Why do I feel others won’t change what’s annoying me and blocking good communication?

    4. I CAN’T AFFORD A LACK OF CONFIDENCE. Why do I allow myself to think others have power over me so they can tear down my self-confidence?

    5. I CAN’T MAKE PEOPLE FEEL GOOD. Why is it that I think I have the power to make others feel good when they don’t try to help themselves?

    6. I CAN’T FIX YOU. Why do you think I can fix your problems? Remember that saying, “Give a child a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a child to fish, and he’ll never go hungry?” I’ve done all I can do to help you — now it’s up to you to step up to the plate and take control over your life.

    7. I CAN’T MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY. Why do I feel it is my obligation to make everyone happy, when they have control over their own feelings…I don’t?

    8. I CAN’T MAKE LIFE EASIER FOR YOU. Why must I knock myself out, giving and doing for you when you won’t help yourself?

    9. I CAN’T MAKE YOU TAKE GOOD ADVICE. Why should I bother to give you good advice when you ignore it or wait for me to do for you what needs to be done?

    10. I CAN’T MAKE YOU ACT POSITIVELY IN OUR RELATIONSHIP. Why can’t you make choices that positively impact our relationship without my pitching a hissy fit?

    11. I CAN’T SPEED UP YOUR DECISIONS. Why must you take forever and a day to make decisions that aren’t life-threatening or life-changing? I realize that all options must be explored and the possible outcomes weighed, but…get real!

    12. I CAN’T DENY KIDS ARE AMAZING PEOPLE. Why can’t you accept the fact that sometimes kids have more insight into a problem or have a solution to a problem, than even the most intelligent adult?

    13. I CAN’T GET AFTER YOU LIKE A MOTHER. Why do you expect me to be your parent? You may have different perspectives on some issues, but you have the brainpower and resources to take care of yourself.

    14. I CAN’T MAKE YOU BE A RESPONSIBLE, CARING, LOVING, GOOD MAN OR WOMAN. Why must anyone feel that s/he isn’t capable of being caring, loving, and good, on his or her own? Ever heard the command, “GROW UP!”? If you want others to be caring, loving, and a good partner for you, then you have to reciprocate…or even initiate…those same behaviors that you want and expect…and, hopefully, deserve.

    Allow your emotions to set you free. After all, if you were to delete all the people in the world who bug you, there are billions more where they came from to do you the same service.

    ABOUT DENNIS E. O’GRADY, PSY.D.

    Dr. Dennis O’Grady is the developer of a powerful communication system which has been proven to increase positive communication, energy, mood, business performance, personal life circumstances, and to help those who use the system to enjoy the ride of their lives. Don’t believe it? That’s because you’re investing in energy-draining communication strategies that keep you stuck, spinning the tires of your communicator car until smoke is surrounding you. Would you like to take a little pressure off yourself today, improving your performance and your mood? Then learn the Talk to Me communication system that is results-driven and personally proven. Don’t know about your communicator type? Yikes…you are not licensed to drive on the talk highway! Read the “let’s all talk” textbook that will change your communication viewpoint forever, “Talk to Me: Communication Moves To Get Along With Anyone” available at this site and on Amazon.

    Comment by Dr. Dennis O'Grady — October 1, 2007 @ 9:58 am

  2. WHO’S TO BLAME FOR MISCOMMUNICATION?

    Who’s to blame for miscommunication patterns? Empathizer (E-type) communicators are interpersonally wired to take on blame and search for reasons why they have or haven’t done something to negatively impact a relationship. Ergo, the muse, “You are too sensitive for your own good!” Instigator (I-type) communicators are interpersonally wired to avoid blame or to blame the situation as the problem. Hence, the belief, “It’s not my fault and feeling bad won’t accomplish anything good!” Conflict results when energy is focused on affixing blame instead of fixing the problem of faulty communication.

    EMPATHIZER AND INSTIGATOR TALKERS IN CONFLICT

    Confusing communication causes conflict. Empathizers keep secret how Instigators aren’t being helpful for fear of hurting their talk partners’ feelings. Nonetheless, an E-type talker in conflict with an I-type talker perceives and views these stances as unhelpful:

    1. Playing the role of the noble victim. E-types don’t respect anyone who feigns a one-down position to grab the upper hand of power.

    Confusing I-Type Message: “I’ve done a lot to try to make this relationship work, and this situation is very hard on me, too.”

    (Implication: If anyone’s to blame, it’s obviously not me! I deserve some sympathy.)

    2. Putting me in a situation where I feel pressured to play the role of a quasi-authority figure. E-types don’t like being cornered to make suggestions that will be rebutted and not used.

    Confusing I-Type Message: “Then you tell me what to do! Lay out a very clear course for us to follow. Give me a plan. What would you like for me to do for you?”

    (Implication: If you make the plan, then I can’t be held responsible if it fails.)

    3. Stirring the pot by bringing drama into the situation. E-types like peace and quiet and feel distressed when their relationships are stressed.

    Confusing I-Type Message: “When I try to be helpful, you get resentful. You’re over-reacting and getting too emotional. I don’t want to upset the apple cart or stir the pot, but I’m not going to put a big smile on a pile of stinky crap, either.”

    (Implication: Whenever I play the part of a good guy or gal, you can’t help but see things my way.)

    4. Creating issues to face or fear. E-types intensely dislike issues, created out of thin air, which make them feel vulnerable or fearful.

    Confusing I-Type Message: I’m not making up this issue. This is a legitimate issue, and it really is a big deal whether you agree with me or not.

    (Implication: This relationship is in serious trouble! Somehow, we must not be right for each other.)

    5. Spinning their ideas around in my mind. E-types feel many things are their fault and are ultimately theirs to change.

    Confusing I-Type Message: “If only you had _______(fill in the blank), or if you hadn’t ________ (fill in the blank), then things would have gone so much better. We wouldn’t be having these problems.”

    (Implication: These problems are really your fault, not mine — even if I didn’t ask you to do, or not do, these things, you should have known! Didn’t you pass Mind Reading 101 in school?)

    6. Making accusations like “Why don’t you care?” E-types pride themselves on being caring and compassionate people. This tends to make the E-type feel pressured to do what was asked, even when uncomfortable doing it, to demonstrate devotion…despite that doing so is taxing physically, emotionally, or financially.

    Confusing I-Type Message: “If you do not ___________, (fill in the blank — usually something very difficult to do), then you must not really care about me.” (Or you’re not right for me, or this relationship is doomed, etc.)

    (Implication: If this relationship doesn’t end up working out, then it’s going to be your fault because you didn’t — or you did — ___________ (whatever was asked to be done.).

    7. Running away from feelings. E-types view I-types as prone to running away from solving emotional problems.

    Confusing I-Type Message: “You don’t understand. I’m not cold or heartless because I’m in this for the long haul and I don’t drop out of sight when the going gets tough.

    (Implication: If the E-type is in this for the long haul, s/he’d better be ready to do a lot of compromising…and endurance training.)

    8. Switching talk lanes abruptly. The E-type communicator can point out that the I-type is actually exhibiting one of the above patterns, and that it’s not a good way to communicate and resolve problems, only to have the I-type very subtly and quickly change topics to bring up another issue that is blamed on the E-type.

    Confusing I-Type Message: “I’m not being defensive. I’m just being logical and factual. You’re just taking this out of context again.”

    (Implication: It’s actually somehow the E-type’s fault if the I-type exhibits these patterns, again putting the E-type on the defensive.)

    When you understand how you’re viewed by your opposite communicator type, you have a greater ability to communicate clearly in ways that bring about change and which don’t sow discord and conflict.

    ABOUT DAYTON COMMUNICATIONS PSYCHOLOGIST DENNIS E. O’GRADY, PSY.D.

    Dr. Dennis O’Grady is the innovative researcher and teacher of the Talk to Me© innovative communication system. You can obtain Dr. O’Grady’s self-empowering textbook of results-driven communication strategies, Talk to Me: Communication Moves To Get Along with Anyone, at drogrady.com or Amazon. Dennis provides relationship communication coaching, corporate training and event keynotes on effective relationship communication, using his powerful model of adopting the strengths of Empathizer-type and Instigator-type communicators.

    Comment by Dr. Dennis O'Grady — October 2, 2007 @ 7:59 am

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