Updated: Jan 24, 2019
Something I hear time and time again when coaching clients, which strikes me as extremely interesting is their understanding of why they say the things they do. It appears that a lot of people communicate on autopilot, exhibiting unconsidered, unconscious speaking patterns and responses. When it comes to a bit of banter or general chit chat, this doesn’t pose much of a problem; however, once you start to breach subjects where challenging emotions are involved, this type of communication can be catastrophic.
“People often make statements, when they mean to ask questions”
Speaking on autopilot is habitual, meaning your responses are based on assumptions of the past and not mindful of the present. If you happen to generally respond kindly, considerately and caringly, these autopilot responses may not result in much conflict, but they’re also unlikely to result in helpful communication. If however you typically respond judgmentally, conflictingly or sarcastically, you’re likely to create havoc every time you open your mouth. Your responses are often subject to your mood as well, meaning that awareness of ‘why you’re saying what you’re saying’ is even more important for good communication, healthy relationships and your own sanity.
I’m yet to speak to a client who believes in an ideal situation, they like to create conflict in their relationships. Sometimes people believe they enjoy conflict, usually because of feelings of anger and sadness, which are often a result of some form of unresolved conflict, which can derived from bad communication in the past. If when someone asks you – “why did you say that” – you find yourself answering ‘no reason’ or ‘it’s a passing comment’ it’s a classic sign of autopilot communication.
If someone’s had to ask you why you’ve said something, they may be feeling confused, upset or angry at your answer. Often the resolutions to these types of conflict are to apologies and ask questions around the original statement and then paraphrase what they’ve said to clarify you both understand. Asking questions is a great way of communicating and invites engagement and active listening.
People often make statements, when they mean to ask questions. Often people make statements, hoping that the other person will respond with clarification. Sometimes this may happen; however, it puts all of the responsibility of communication onto one person, it’s high risk in terms of upsetting the other person, it can elongate and convolute a conversation making it unenjoyable and it suggests that you’re speaking on autopilot, with little understanding of why you’ve said what you’ve said.
So if you find yourself constantly upsetting other people, feeling upset about your relationships and how you feel after speaking with people, ask yourself – do you really know why you’ve said what you’ve said –.
Now the verdict's out… What to do?
If communication is something you'd like to improve then please take a look at our life coaching services.