There are copious amounts of research supporting the fact that stress reduction is a major factor in staying healthy. Since stress can lead to a rise in cortisol levels that can negatively impact blood glucose levels, living with diabetes means attempting to live a life with as little stress as possible.
Ineffective communication with others can be a key factor in raising the stress levels in your life. Consider how much anguish is involved when you have a run-in with an angry or difficult person. I would like to address this difficulty by exploring some typical ways that we tend to react to these types of persons and discuss how a "mindful" approach can be useful.
There are three common and usually ineffective styles of communication that are involved when approached by an angry or difficult person. One style is known as the "Doormat Style." This could involve listening to the other person's words and agreeing with everything they say. It could involve the internal repetition of self-deprecating things like "I hate myself, or I'm such an idiot, or "I always screw things up." There could be some cowering in your body language. Does this communication style seem familiar to you? What would be the payoff for choosing to react to another person's anger in this way? Does the problem get resolved by relating this way? The aggressor my feel some success but it feels terrible for the recipient.
Another communication style that is often times ineffective is the "Avoidant Style." If approached by an angry or difficult person this could take various forms. You could avoid returning a phone call. You could turn your back on them and walk away. You could excuse yourself and tell them you need to make a call. You could stop communicating with them altogether. Is this familiar to you? What happens to your anger when someone avoids you? Most people get angrier! Does anything get resolved?
Another communication style is called, "fighting back." This could involve arguing with everything the aggressor says and possibly screaming or cursing at the aggressor while turning it around so it's all their fault. With this style, there is often times an escalation of anger for both parties involved. Does anything get resolved?
A fourth type of communication is the martial arts style known as "Aikido Communication." It involves "entering and blending" which is a mindful approach. You work with the angry energy of the other person as a martial artist might work with the energy of an attacker.
In the other communication styles described, both parties are "caught up" in their feelings. With the Aikido style, even though the angry person may be caught up in their feelings, the receiver is "mindful" of their internal experience. This means they are relaxing into their feelings rather than fighting with them. This relationship with internal experience is more likely to bring about effective communication because your internal experience becomes more manageable and comfortable.
If you are not overwhelmed by your feelings, then there is no need to relieve or avoid your own discomfort with the "door mat" style, "avoidant" style or the "fighting back" style of communication. You become capable of opening up to and listening to the other person. You can step toward the other and meet them where they are rather than trying to control their energy. You can validate the way another is feeling and acknowledge their pain and concern regarding the issue. The key in this role is to actually hear the other person and seek resolution without compromising your own self-respect and dignity. This style of communication will greatly increase the probability of resolution since the angry energy of the other has a chance to dissipate, if you as the recipient cease to fuel it with your own expression of inner disturbance.
You will encounter a difficult, angry person in the future. If you remember the mindful approach to your inner experience along with meeting the person exactly where they are, you can turn a potentially stressful situation into one that gets resolved without the negative physical and emotional ramifications.
Published On: April 12, 2010