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Communication – Part 2 “Myth and Story: A Major Communication Barrier

What is a myth? It is a story created in the mind. Myth is seldom based in fact. It is the stuff of fairy tales, superstition, and enchantment. Relationship myth is created and fueled by gossip, stories, and hearsay. The communication is laced with judgment, criticism, and strong opinions. Myth is a hiding place for victims who often fear intimacy and the truth. It is a land filled with blame, excuses, and a failure. It’s all about what people think and believe about others and is devoid of complete and open fact.

As you pursue improving your relationships and communication, myth is one of your biggest enemies.  Relationships characterized by myth are fraught with difficulty.  Feelings rule the relationship; everything from apathy, to low-level tension, to outbursts and emotional upset! Drama accompanies myth because stories are designed to elicit emotion!

You know what this looks like in the workplace. When a group is at this level of communication, low morale, a lack of accountability and poor results will be present. High employee turnover, low productivity, and distraction from productive work is typical.  It makes sense.  When people carry negative beliefs and stories about their teammates, they also carry negative emotion that drains energy and productivity.  Their thoughts are not focused on the work at hand and the customer, but on the stories, drama, feelings and judgments they have towards their workmates.

There is an even deeper downside to mythical communication.  When I carry a story about a person, I perceive that person’s actions through the filter of that story.  Everything they do and say will be colored by my paradigm, and people find what they expect.  My perception of that person is created by my judgement of that person. This includes my preconceptions based on their background, affiliations, socio-economics, and education.  My communication with that person is filtered through my story about them.  I will see and hear what I expect to see and hear and disregard what is not in line with my expectations.  Though some of my story may be accurate, my response to that person is primarily based on beliefs that I have created in my mind
about them.

If you can recognize that we all are subject to this practice, then you can also see a great opportunity to improve your communication and quality of relationships. If you will drop your judgments, preconceived ideas, and your story about another person, and listen intently to them without that judgement, you will begin understand them. As you get to know them, you open a door for cooperation and synergy.

For you to drop your story about another person, you must be secure in your own values and self-concept. Otherwise you will feel threatened and vulnerable if you fully accept and listen deeply to another person who may be very different from you!  Here’s the exciting possibility: If you will drop your beliefs, myths, and perceptions of another person, you will be freed to truly listen and understand them. If they will do the same, then through mutual understanding you can create win:win agreements that will lead to amazing outcomes.  I challenge you to drop the myths and stories you carry about others and get real with the people in your life.

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