Feb 24, 2009

The 12 Communication Roadblocks

Throughout our lives, we have learned a variety of ways to help children as well as adults when they have strong feelings, thoughts or problems. We want to be helpful, yet many of our responses actually make it more difficult for the person to express himself, make a decision, or solve a problem.

Listed here are twelve of the more frequent "helping responses" which can become "Roadblocks" to communication. When you read this list, you may feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you because so many of your regular ways of talking responses are now called roadblocks.

  1. Ordering, Directing: "Stop feeling sorry for yourself..."
  2. Warning, Threatening: "You'll never make friends if..." "You'd better stop worrying so much or..."
  3. Moralizing, Preaching: "Life is not a bowl of cherries..." "You shouldn't feel that way..." "Patience is a virtue you should learn..."
  4. Advising, Giving Solutions: "What I would do is...", "Why don't you..." "Let me suggest..."
  5. Persuading with Logic, Arguing: "Here is why you are wrong..." "The facts are..." "Yes, but..."
  6. Judging, Criticizing, Blaming: "You are not thinking maturely..." "You are just lazy..." "Maybe you started the fight first..."
  7. Praising, Agreeing: "Well, I think you're doing a great job!" "You're right!--that teacher sounds awful."
  8. Name-calling, Ridiculing: "Crybaby--", "That's stupid to worry about one low test grade."
  9. Analyzing, Diagnosing: "What's wrong with you is..." "You're just tired." "What you really mean is..."
  10. Reassuring, Sympathizing: "Don't worry." "You'll feel better." "Oh, cheer up!"
  11. Questioning, Probing: "Why..." "Who...?" "What did you...?" "How...?"
  12. Diverting, Sarcasm, Withdrawal: "Let's talk about pleasant things..." "Why don't you try running the world!?" Remaining silent, turning away

Two things to know about "Roadblocks":
  1. These are roadblocks when the child/other is experiencing a problem or strong feelings (Other Owns a Problem). When the relationship is in the "No Problem Area" many of these are not roadblocks (e.g., joking, asking questions, etc.). Some, like name-calling and ridiculing are always risky and cause problems.
  2. You are not a "bad" parent because you use roadblocks. You are doing what you have been taught to do to help others. P.E.T. will provide you with more effective alternatives to begin using instead of these common roadblocks.
Future posts on the effects some roadblocks have on communication, and useful alternatives to help the flow of communication.

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