A Communication Style that Hurts!

by Catherine DeAngelis

Many of us may agree, among our realm of family, friends and colleagues, there is a degree of passive-aggressive behavior that may be affecting us.

“Passive-aggressive behavior, is only one of many styles in which we communicate. This pattern indirectly is expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them. There’s a disconnect between what a passive-aggressive person says and what he or she does. For a passive-aggressive person, true feelings are shared through actions, not words.” (Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D, Mayo Clinic).

Dr. Hall-Flavin explains for example, a passive-aggressive person might appear to agree — perhaps even enthusiastically — with another person’s request. Rather than completing the task, however, he or she might express anger or resentment by missing deadlines, showing up late to meetings, making excuses or even working against the task.

The more we understand our emotions, the easier we will find it to deal with them when they arise.  This is true of passive-aggressive behavior, because emotions unacknowledged can bend our thinking and result in a non-flattering communication style. 

It is a personal responsibility and a vital life skill that we work at keeping in-check of ourselves to ensure we are communicating effectively, and with integrity.

“Becoming upset when you see someone doing something that you do, but don’t know that you do, is called “projection.” You always dislike in others what you don’t recognize, or don’t want to recognize, in yourself.” (Source: Gary Zukav)

We need to take time to evaluate our emotional health.  By paying attention to mind streams or patterns in behaviors, thoughts and feelings, especially the negative ones – usually we’ll find there is a story to be told.  By exploring and releasing the emotions attached, then these emotions will not get in our way and we are able to better manage them.

We have human being influences all of our lives from as early on as childbirth. We can choose to understand that we are connected to parent, adult and child behaviors, thoughts and feelings.  Without knowing, we copy patterns from our parents or parent figures. Our adult-self, thoughts and feelings are direct responses to what is happening to us here and now. We replay child behaviors, thoughts and feelings. For some of us, we find ourselves spiraling out of control wondering why we reacted in a negative way, rather than having responded in a positive light, only because of a trigger from a pattern surfacing from “parent, parent figures, adult, or child.” 

Psychology today, as well as ancient Hindu and Buddhist doctrines contend that, rather than mastering our emotions, could we learn to live in equilibrium with them, and use the energy that they give us.

Our Emotional Self

emotional expression is the ultimate form of communication – it can hurt or heal.

~ to suppress or deny emotions remove the tools that others need to understand, get to know, and like us. It denies us the chance to make our true selves known and to free ourselves from the layers of unspent emotional energy that cloud our relationships, both with ourselves and with others.

We can open ourselves up to intuition, to the natural release of energy – both positive and negative – and to self-awareness.  Personal growth is becoming aware of what we are feeling, and learning about ourselves from what we feel. We need to identify with our behaviors, thoughts and feelings to be assertive.

Our communication style is best when it is non-threatening, and we are able to maintain integrity in our dialogue with others. For example, saying “no” is not a weapon. Use of “I” statements and avoiding “you” statements will more likely get a positive rather than a negative response.

Instead of passive-aggressive behavior, we need to know and identify with our emotions.  Assertiveness is non-judging awareness of feelings – being assertive is standing up for our rights, while maintaining respect for the rights of others making us better skilled in our communication style and healing our relationships rather than hurting them.

How is your Emotional Awareness?

Below are some questions that you can ask yourself to evaluate your emotional side. To get an accurate result, answer the questions honestly.

1.       Can you tell others how you are feeling? This does not mean coming out with a simple, “I am sad,” or “I am happy,” response. It means being able to express your feelings at any time without being prodded.
 __ Yes    __No
2.       Do you exhibit signs of stress?
__ Yes    __No
3.       Do you regularly feel listless or withdrawn?
__ Yes    __No
4.       Do you laugh less than you use to?
__ Yes    __No
5.       Do you smile or show delight easily?
__ Yes    __No
6.       Do you become frustrated easily, and want to give up?
__ Yes    __No
7.       Do you push yourself too hard to be the best – best player, best friend, parent or winner of the prize?
__ Yes    __No
8.       Are you reluctant to take on new challenges that you would normally enjoy?
__ Yes    __No
9.       Do you get very upset if criticized or corrected – asked a silly question?
__ Yes    __No
10.   Do you put yourself down regularly?
__ Yes    __No
11.   Are you overly critical of others?
__ Yes    __No
12.   Do you try too hard to please people?
__ Yes    __No
13.   Are you needy or insecure, or cling to the known?
__ Yes    __No
14.   Do you suffer from inexplicable fears?
__ Yes    __No
15.   Do you need continual approval?
__ Yes    __No
16.   Do you boast?
__ Yes    __No
17.   Are you aggressive or attention-seeking?
__Yes    __No
18.   Are you impatient and unappreciative?
__Yes    __No
Results: If you have answered yes to the first question, and no to all of the others, you are likely be in balance and aware of your emotions. Also, chances are you have a mix of yes and no answers. Look at areas you answered yes. These show parts of yourself and your life that are dissatisfying. Example, if you boast, it is likely you feel insecure and need some attention.
(Source: Psychologies Today 12/10)


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Articles written by Catherine DeAngelis
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