Let's Talk About It!
By 2nd Lt Matthew Gips, 31st Fighter Wing Equal Opportunity
/ Published March 11, 2019
AVIANO AIR FORCE BASE, Italy -- Even as a well-trained communicator, I have had my fair share of situations where I found myself frustrated beyond belief because someone just didn’t understand what I was communicating, or I wasn’t getting the quality of feedback that I desired, or even had to navigate inter-personal conflict due to poor articulation.
We see these frustrations in everyday life. Something as simple as going out to eat has been iconized in social media memes as one of the toughest collaborative engagements a relationship can have.
These frustrations can get out of hand and lead to polarization in relationships that are detrimental to a work or family unit. The fundamental fix is increasing dialog. “Let’s talk about it!” for a full month, from March 11, 2019 to April 11, 2019.
“Let’s Talk About It!” is a campaign meant to inspire increased conversation within daily life in order to reduce the interference of communication barriers. The goal is to make effective communication a normal part of life for everyone at Aviano Air Base, inside or outside the gate. Participate in the campaign by actively seeking to build relationships, engage communication obstacles, clarify perceptions, and manage conflict.
Transposing an idea can be a daunting task due to the abundance of variables in every interaction. For example, your boss tells you to set up a staff meeting. You have to consider where, when, for how long, who to invite, what are the topics, etc. With little direction and multiple variables, there are thousands of potential outcomes for the staff meeting. The likelihood that the staff meeting will be exactly as your boss envisioned is slim. Without effective communication, there is only assumption.
Many obstacles to communication are internal, such as perceptions (experiences plus expectations) or emotion (i.e. fear), and unbeknownst to the other party in the communication. This leaves room for more assumption. More often, people react by avoiding communication which only perpetuates the situation.
Rather than assuming that expectations are clear, or the other person’s intentions, taking the opportunity to have a more in-depth dialog can aid in the clarification of the message.
I rank relationship building at the top of all communication techniques. It is foundational to communication because it provides continuity to future interactions. For instance, having a relationship that fosters respect and dignity increases the resiliency of that relationship, because of the history of genuine conversations.
However, quite often I meet people who have a high level of anxiety when engaging others, especially confrontationally. Habitually treating communication as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle, inverts the negative mindset into a positive one, making it easier and fulfilling to have more conversations in the future.
Sometimes there are obstacles that we need to intentionally navigate. One of these is difference in perception.
We all grew up in different parts of the world, had different family and friends, and endured different situations. These different experiences, or lack of, have shaped our worldly expectations. Dialog provides opportunity to discuss those expectations for feedback that clarify if the message received matches the intent.
As I incorporate these techniques into my life more and more, I find that there are less toxic conflicts to deal with. Communication obstacles have become microscopic and my relationships overall, are more cohesive.
Why wouldn’t you want to increase dialog in your life? It’s as simple as telling people, “Let’s talk about it!”