What is a dysfunctional communication style?
It is a pattern of speaking and interacting that shuts down true connection, inhibits forward action, becomes energy draining, lowers self esteem, and can affect the overall health and well-being of a relationship.
A dysfunctional communication style being a pattern is important to note because we all can have (and no doubt have had) a, less than sterling conversation or encounter. This bad interaction can happen for many reasons; however, once this interaction is over the reasons for the dysfunction are also over.
The purpose of identifying a dysfunctional communication style is to diffuse its effect on our lives. Dysfunctional communications often affect us on a subconscious level, and when they exist only in our subconscious, it is much more difficult for us to change their influence. Bringing them to consciousness so we can spot them as they are happening, or realize we have been engaged in these in the past, can help us be better prepared for dysfunctional communication styles in the future and not let them affect us in a negative way.
When we are unaware of a dysfunctional communications in our interactions, they can affect us in these and other ways:
- Dulling of our alertness
- Flight (desire to leave the interaction ASAP)
- Rise in agitation (fidgeting with clothes, keys, etc)
- Increasing our vocal volume (in an attempt to top the situation)
- A shift from a cooperative stance to an adversarial one with no awareness this shift has occurred until possibly later
- Feeling drained after an encounter
- Feeling incomplete
In Part 2, I go in depth into the 16 dysfunctional communication styles.