Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Are You Mixing The Right Flavors?

 


Quite often we hear these familiar remarks from our families, friends, colleagues, and the rest.  I am sure you heard one of these either this week or this month!
“Whenever my Dad talks to me, he starts giving me wisdom. It is all about what to do and what not to do.”
“My manager comes and talks to me whenever he has some task on hand. I end up doing it. “
“I have stopped talking to my husband because he reacts to whatever I say. He goes on talking about his opinion. He criticizes but does not try to understand what is going on. “
“My brother comes to me whenever he needs something.  I haven’t seen him helping me on anything or sharing anything with me.”
“He is a loudmouth. I wouldn’t invite him for this party.”
“He does not support our team. He bosses around!”
 “That evening, when he said that to me, I felt like moving away and stop talking to him.  He is such an idiot! He doesn’t care!”
Will a cocktail party with the right mix of flavors help us loose our inhibition and have a smooth talk?  Will that be the right occasion to connect a troubled boss or a coworker with the rest of the team?  Some of you must have tried that and know what happened the next morning or the next week. The story repeats and the experience does not improve. So, what do we do?
 
We are social and connected. We are connected with our families, relatives, friends, colleagues and communities.  The way we communicate builds our relationships with people around us. The flavors of communication are numerous.  From greeting and enquiring to commanding and criticizing we end up one way or the other.  The flavors we mix to communicate either foster relationships or lead to withdrawals because of a potential communication breakdown.   This is because communication is one of the significant factors that reflect our attitude and behavior in any social setting.
 
So, are we mixing the right flavors or missing the essentials?  And are we avoiding the brutal ones?

 
Look at this picture for a moment.  It provides just a collection of different flavors we end up reflecting in our communication.  There are several other flavors such as encouraging, badgering, boosting, boasting, inflaming, and so on.  I am sure, you have more to add.  If you have some, please feel free to add those in your comments and share your thoughts on this post.
Which of these flavors are the most likable?  Which of those produce sweet memories?  The list is not very long but it includes responding, enquiring, supporting, aligning, believing, sharing, trusting, appreciating, greeting, comforting, listening, caring, and the likes.  That is the first set of flavors I wanted to present. I am sure you like all of them. Obviously, everything in this set creates a wonderful experience. These are the ones that are pleasant and amicable in all situations. These are the ones that let us connect with people and nurture relationships.

These flavors make a pleasing impact when we are genuine with no intent of manipulation. In some cases, people mask everything else and mix these flavors well enough to construct a positive image of each other and build their relationship.  You know what happens next. Is repeating these flavors a practical way to live our lives happily?  Yes, that makes sense but we need many other flavors too!
Sometimes we need to communicate in different ways.  We need to mix more flavors.  That list includes flavors such as reacting, advising, instructing, opining, directing, supervising, guiding, tasking, probing, commanding, controlling, criticizing, etc.   That is the second set of flavors.  It is tough to live without some of these flavors in certain situations.  Yes. It is tough to eliminate or avoid such  flavors all the time considering the variety of roles we play – Mother, Father, Son, Daughter, Sister, Brother, Husband, Wife, In-Laws, Grand Parent, Student, Teacher, Coach, Mentor, Supervisor, Team Member,  Entrepreneur,  etc.
When we repeat more and more of the flavors in this second set, we shrink the wonderful experiences created by the first set.   Eventually, when we forget about the first set, we create a bitter experience.
 
 
This is a tiny thought I wanted to express through this blog post. When this stays in our mind, we understand the constant and consistent focus we need to have in balancing these two sets in certain roles.
How do you know if you are maintaining the balance or not?  One way is to do self-inquiry or introspection.  Another way is to listen and understand how people around you respond to your interactions and consider signals that come to you through feedbacks.   A better approach is to find opportunities to mix the flavors of the first set.
There is yet another approach. Next time when you either make or consume a cocktail or mocktail, remember this question.  Are You Mixing The Right Flavors?  I am sure you will mix the right flavors!
Wish You a Happy New Year 2015!
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3 comments:

  1. Hi,

    The write-up starts with a set of examples which are relevant and relevant to a person at various walks of life. The write-up takes a nice flow to reach a probable solution with an assumption that this(cited examples) is something inevitable(I am not sure if this was the assumption, I may be wrong here), I cannot say that i disagree with the flavoring argument, however I was planning to attack this at a different level(I shall get to this in a while). I do not doubt that the cited examples create chaos and yes chaos in life is something that we cannot live with.
    Lets look at the cited examples this way -- " it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it's my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me"(Question to ask -- Am in prepared for the disturbance.. No.. let me do something about it .. Yes ?? very well then)... going further and expanding the horizon -- "It's not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.
    More than the problem, it's my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life"
    REACTIONS are always instinctive whereas RESPONSES are always well thought of

    So if both entities(Father-Son, Boss-Sub Ordinate et al) understand this then we would not even have the problem that we are trying to alleviate or solve for that matter :)

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  2. Thanks for adding these appreciative comments with interesting thoughts.

    I think it is about being aware all the time and mixing the right flavors resulting in a tolerable level and frequency of traffic jams! When we do that, I am sure, we will be able to handle the disturbances caused by traffic jams too.

    Unknowingly, probably due to a limited level of consciousness (i.e. Lack of awareness) we get entangled above the limits and get disturbed. It is a complex thing!

    As you said reactions are instinctive whereas responses are well thought of. Good point! Understanding this is important. That is one of the steps and an important step too.

    Besides, there are some flavors of communication that do not involve or need responses - but they create wonderful experiences. Appreciation, Greetings, Genuine Enquiry etc. are some examples. When we understand these, we will mix the right flavors, minimize traffic jams and learn how to synchronize even when there needs to be a traffic jam!

    Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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