We live in a hyper-segmented world. Every group of people is labeled and categorized, and then separated by what is right and perfect for that category.
And while there are benefits to paying attention to the nuances that distinguish the different relationships we have and the things that are appropriate at different ages and stages of our lives, this segmentation can also draw counter-productive lines in the sand.
I see this the most when people talk to me about how they communicate and connect with the people in their lives. They learn a skill at work on how to handle conflict with coworkers or supervisors, but struggle with strategies on handling conflict at home. So often they don’t think to use the work skills at home because they were presented as being “work” strategies. And yet, they aren’t.
When my daughter was really little, one of my friends came over to visit. As we hung around that day, my daughter heard me talking with Vivienne (my friend’s baby) in the same way I spoke to her. She remarked at how cool and unique it was that I did that. I told her that what she was seeing was the way I chose to communicate with everyone, that consistency was important to me.
I remember another time when my toddler came to me and said, “Be careful with that, Mommy, it’s fragile.” The stranger nearby was appalled and said, “she knows what fragile means?”
I explained to the stranger that I tried to teach my daughter every word she learns – and to do so in a way that she could use for her whole life. In this case, teaching her, “fragile,” instead of, “breaks easily,” made more sense.
When we learn a strategy, concept, phrase or even a word that we can use to better connect with others, it’s critical to remember that it can be transferrable. Sure, you might use a different tone of voice or choice of words, but that doesn’t mean you have to learn different strategies for every type of person in your life.
Why don’t we all agree to come back to the basics. We don’t need to twist ourselves into knots trying to figure out unique ways to engage with each of the people on our lives. After all, we’re all just people – and we all just want to be heard.
Want to learn more about communication? Read all about it here.