Lesson 2 of 7 - learn to communicate effectively

Useful Responses to
Irritating Behaviors

Feel confident in
any social situation

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council


The Web address of this series is https://sfhelp.org/cx/options.htm

Updated 12-31-2014

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      This is one of the articles in Lesson 2 - learn communication basics and skills to get more social needs met more often. Progress with Lesson 2 depends on progress on Lesson 1 - empower your wise true Self to guide your personality in calm and conflictual times.

      This brief YouTube video previews some of the key ideas you'll find in this series of articles. The video mentions eight lessons in this Web site: I've reduced that to seven.

      Do you ever feel unsure of how to respond effectively with "difficult" people or social situations? This article illustrates response options for many common relationship problems. A problem occurs when adults or kids can't fill their current primary needs well enough because of some trait or behavior of another person.

      This article and series provides...

  • a definition of an "effective communication response"

  • response steps common to all situations, and...

  • options for responding effectively to many common social "problem behaviors."

      This series assumes you're familiar with the ideas in Lessons 1 and 2 in this Web site.

      If you have someone whose traits or behaviors irritate you, identify the behavior and follow the appropriate link in the table below. First, consider this:

What is an "Effective Response"?

      Premise - an effective response to irritating behavior meets four conditions:

you accept full responsibility for filling your own needs, and give other able people responsibility for filling their needs - without guilt or anxiety;

you're clear on your and their equal rights as dignified, worthy persons;

you're clear on why you're responding to them - i.e. on what you need; and...

after your response, all people involved feel...

  • fully heard and genuinely respected,

  • that they honored their integrity (were true to their values and standards); and everyone feels...

  • good enough about the way they interacted together; and...

  • that their relationship was preserved or enhanced, vs. degraded. 

      As you gain fluency and confidence using effective communication skills, you'll probably meet these conditions automatically. Can you think of a recent exchange with someone which met these conditions? If so, recall how you felt afterwards...

      With some exceptions, the sample response below apply equally to adults, teens, pre-teens, and personality subselves. They're suggestions, not absolutes. Note their theme - they are brief, specific, respectful, honest, and focused on now vs. the past or future.

Common Problem Behaviors

      "Behaviors" are observable facial, verbal, and body actions or lack of actions ("You never look at me.") Another person's behavior becomes a "problem" when it causes you "significant" local or chronic discomfort. Tho contexts and personalities vary, most adults and kids experience these common problem behaviors with other people.

      Think of adults and kids with whom you experience any of these "problems." Then click the link in the table to see samples of effective responses. Each link will take you to a separate page. Some of these links go to the same article.

      Starting in childhood, we develop trial-and-error responses to these behaviors in other people. Our responses are usually unconscious, impulsive, and unempathic. We first learn them by observing our early caregivers and hero/ines - who were probably unaware also.

      Without awareness of our needs, our responses, and their effects, we risk degrading communication outcomes and damaging our self-esteem and key relationships. Have you ever thought about how you respond to people with these traits, and what effects you produce?


      This Lesson-2 article is one of a series on improving communication effectiveness - i.e. getting more social needs met harmoniously, more often. The article defines an "effective response" to "problem behavior" in another person. Then it provides a menu of common "problem behaviors" and links to sample response options to each one. 

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?

        For more perspective and options, see...

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