Overcoming the Fears of Open Communication
Everyone wants to be a success in business, many want to make that million before their 30 and retire early. However for most it is only a dream, and then many more try and don’t succeed. In the end a lot will become disgruntled and bitter.
Why is that?
First we must understand that in each of our lives there are different areas we can be successful in. Success in business is only one area. Not everyone can be successful in business though it would be nice but the odds are against everyone being a success in business. Then there is success in Family life. The sad truth is many fail at this too.
Another area of success is in friendships or social life. Some seem to have tons of friends while others have only a few. As a Pastor/Counselor/Confidant, I have had to guide people through difficulties in life and one of the things I noticed is, some people have lots of friends but those relationships are shallow. You will find that statistics show that people who commit suicide have often been thought to have a lot of friends. But in reality they may have many acquaintances, they lacked the deepness of true relationships, where they could actually trust the one they are befriending. Having a lot of friends is no proof one is successful in friendships. Friendship are relationships and if those relationships are not deep enough that you can confide in the person, then that friendship may not be a successful friendship.
So what is it that is the common denominator in all the areas of success?
That’s right communication is the key to success in any area of your life. Marriage, Family, Business and Friendships, will all succeed or fail upon communication.
Ever wonder how some of these supposedly successful people can get a bunch of people to sell vacuum cleaners , while the only one who really makes any money is the one getting the work force to pound the pavement for a sale?
Well it is communication. He communicates the product and it’s benefits in hopes of getting a few fired up to join his force to go out and make some sales of this great product. But his employee turnover is high and he must constantly be rallying up new sales people for his product. However the communication he uses is self motivated and generally not open and honest. What I mean he is doing it to advance himself in the end. And like his workforce he too will sooner or later burn out.
Ok, so how do we get communication to work and have success in any area of our lives?
First it must me honest, second clear and third open. And we need others to understand our communication habits, so they will not to be offended. In other words it must be co-equal communication or Collegial Interactive Communication. A communication between equals where no one is afraid of hurt or honest communication, this is called a relationship. And in a good relationship no one is communicating for a secret personal motive or agenda. The reality is honest and open communication scares people. The reason is, they are not used to co-equal or Collegial Interactive Communication and they don’t know how to be open and honest when communicating.
I want to point out two of the most common reasons why people are afraid to communicate. There are others but these two are why many don’t want deep communication with people. Let’s look at the first of these two. Let see if we can identify what was the failure of many of the sales people in the above snippet about the sales motivator.
What is it that many who want to get into sales but fail at it?
It is the Fear of NO. Fear of No or a Negative answer, it is why many sales people fail and it is why many don’t go deeper into communicating themselves openly in landing the sale, and it is why many wont communicate openly in relationships with others.
One of the first things I learned in honest open communication came years ago. And its basis is never be afraid of “No”. I learned I could ask for something, and if I was not fearful of No as the answer, it never hurt to ask. I often got the things I asked for because I was willing to ask without fearing the “No” answer.
As a Missionary Pastor in a foreign land, teaching the word of God, one of the commandments is “Thou shall not steal”. Yet in tribal communities all property is communal, and many still have that mentality even though their country is growing toward private property and enterprise ending the communal aspect of property. So when a neighbor who complained that the kids were stealing all his cashew nuts from his trees. The first thing I asked was, “Did you tell them it is your trees and not to pick the cashews?” Of course the answer was no. I suggested first he tell the kids not to pick them, and tell them why and how it hurts you if they take it. He followed my advice and it worked. But some of the kids still could not understand why they couldn’t take some of the cashews.
So teaching them not to steal another man’s property was difficult because they saw the unfenced trees as communal and not private. So I told them the best thing they could do as a Christian is to ask and get permission or don’t take them. Many were afraid and when I figured out their fear I was able to address a deeper issue in their culture. The fear of NO. People are by nature afraid of disappointment so hearing NO is not high on their list of things they like. I tell them always ask and never be afraid because the worst answer you can get is NO.
I have found personally that if I wanted something that someone else could provide for me, all I had to do was to ask for it. The worst answer is No, and what fear is it in being told No? Nothing. I discovered that many times the answer was yes, rather than no. And likewise for the kids they discovered that many times the answer is yes but what kept them from communicating was fear of NO.
Another reason people are hesitant or fearful of communicating is having their honest and open communication used against them.
Part of Interactive Communication is not being afraid of a negative answer. That is the answer you don’t want to hear. Many times the if you are afraid of the negative answer it is because you are asking for the wrong reason. And one reason people are afraid to actually communicate is because people are listening for the wrong reason. Part of good Collegial Interactive Communication is listening, as a matter of experience, listening is probably the most important part of good communication. Not just letting them speak type of listening but really listening so that there can be deeper trust and discovery of fears and self, but many are afraid of this because some people will use what has been communicated against them.
Before I give you an example of having your communication used against you, I want you to understand I am the type of person who will give you full trust, but once you break that trust, it will be hard for you to ever get back to that level of trust again. Now I had a man I trusted, the relationship started out as an all relationships do, as acquaintance. He asked a lot of questions and I thought it was just because our relationship was new and he just wanted to know more about me. I was open and honest with my communication giving trust to this man unto a very deep level. As the relationship developed he would often turn things I said on me and try to give psychological reasons for some of my failures or shortcomings. I began to wonder why he was doing this, as he was starting to come across as a superior and no longer an equal. Only for a short time did I ever hold him as a superior and that is when I worked under him and that limited to our hours in the field together. Outside of that position, I myself, kept our relationship as equals but apparently he did not. He wanted to have that superiority over me 24/7. People like this want to have a hierarchal relationship, that is they want to rule over others. The problem was I never gave him that authority.
Anyway on with the story, I went to school for a few years and later into ministry, Married my wife, and during that time I did not have a very close relationship with him. I thought when he visits it would be just a continuation of a trusting relationship with open and honest communication. But again and again if there was a problem of sorts he would revert back to psycho-analytical positioning and become the superior even though that was not the case at the time. Friendships can be touchy and because of this type of relationship with this man I was beginning to learn why people don’t put themselves out there for others to know in a deeper way. Let me explain further.
One day this man visited me, no indication from him of any problem, no indication of his being put into a position as a superior, or that he was going about some action that placed him over me. As far as I knew everything between us was fine and we were on equal ground. He made a comment on the coffee I offered him as being really good, and then went into asking questions, and believing at this point we were equals I answered openly. Later I found out through others he was going around investigating me for supposed wrong doing. He had used my willingness to be open and honest against me for a more devious purpose. When he was confronted by me, his excuse was for one reason, but it was later revealed, by one who benefited from his dishonesty, the true motivation behind all his actions.
What happened is very common among worldly minded people who are out to promote themselves. The communication was not a two way honest and open communication it was deceptive and agenda driven. When his deception is revealed and I confronted him with it, he was still not honest but buried himself in other so called motives as to what he was doing, but what resulted proved that he was motivated by quite a different goal. It is people like this that cause people to be fearful of trusting people. This is how a person can have lots of friends and still be lonely, there is no honest and open communication between them and others.
I was hurt by this mans dishonesty. His partial truths and misinformation he gave others, deeply affected areas of my life financially and in my relationships with them. But what was the root of the whole breakdown of our relationship. Partially it was his not being open and honest in his communication with me from the first time we met, his desire to rule over people ran his motives for friendships. And My fault was, as I know now, not stating from the beginning that if he was going to ask questions that were of a deeper nature then he would be required a higher accountability for the knowledge he had of me and that he would not use those things against me. I needed to explain what a relationship with me will require. That this open and honest communication, and it must be a two way street, so both of us will be held accountable if we break that trust. Had he been truly interested in the success of my life and situation he would have been open and honest in every communication we ever had, however as it was revealed that was not the truth, he had no use for honest and open relationships because he cannot control them. Hierarchal personalities are control freaks.
I learned that these types of people use other people as stepping stones to further their goals and personal agendas, without regard for those in whom they have gained trust. These types of men often have the respect of men, but their relationships are not fully open and honest. He wants to be a rule over others, he wants Hierarchal relationship not a co-equal or Collegial relationship. A co-equal or collegial interactive relationship takes more work and requires there be honest and open communication something this type of person was incapable of despite his intellect. You must understand that a co-equal/collegial interactive Relationship and communication is high maintenance but it is well worth the effort in the end. Anything worth having is worth working for.
Once these type of people reveal their true self, you must try to be open, if possible, and tell them what they did, how it affected you, and then present a solution so that you can continue in the relationship. But from my experience these type of people will cut off communication when you figure out their game. Sometimes you have to cut off the relationship because the person continues to be dishonest and still will not open and listen with honest intent. If this happens then that type of person can never be trusted again with your honest and open communication and the relationship will remain strained and shallow.
These types of people are shallow with their communication, not just with you but with many others that they have relationships with. Basically it is because they learned how to manipulate people and their knowledge of them for personal gain and interests. Their whole existence is for using the information they gather to further themselves into a superior position over others, one that has not been given them freely. Some people accept this self asserting individual and don’t communicate that they were not given that freedom in their relationship. Here again we must not fear the hurt of being used, but open it up and communicate that they have not been given that hierarchal relationship or more clearly stated, you have not given them permission to rule over you through your personal relationship.
What I want you to learn from this is, don’t be afraid to be open and honest with your communication with people just because a small minority of people use their relationships and the ensuing communication for personal gain or control. When you find these types it is best to keep the relationship and communication shallow because their motivation is not favorable to you but only for themselves. Focus on those relationships where others like yourself want open, honest co-equal communication. It is through these types of relationships that not only are you going to be successful in friendships but you will find these are the ones who are out to truly help you be a success in business and family life a s well.
Don’t let your fear of negative answers and your fear of being used by a few people keep you from Collegial Interactive Communication. If you do you will never develop long lasting friendships or relationships. As you go through the apples of life, you will occasionally find a rotten one in the bushel, and like you would a real apple, toss that one aside and focus on the good ones. Remember you can always pick up the bad one later and cut away the rot, through open and honest communication, and if possible still have a shallow relationship with that person, at best it may change them and be one of your best relationships. And always keep this in mind, listening is as important as communicating open and honestly, do so, not for personal motives or agendas, do it for the one you are co-equal in communicating with, for together you will have a successful relationship in more areas than one.