When poor communication happens, it’s very easy for us humans to place the blame on others. It’s only natural. We are competitive creatures by nature, so when an argument ensues, of course it’s the other person’s fault. In communication we call this the “Self-Serving Bias.” Research shows that when something positive happens, we tend to attribute that success to our internal abilities – things that are in our control. On the other hand, when something negative happens, we tend to place the blame on external causes –things that are out of our control. For example, think about how students often explain their grades to their parents. If they receive an "A" in a class, usually it's because they worked so hard right? However, if they receive an "F" in a class, usually it's because the teacher was too difficult, or the textbook didn't make any sense, or the workload was ridiculous. Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, the “Self-Serving Bias” is alive and well in our daily communication acts. Think back to some of the misunderstandings that you've encountered over the past few months. Did you really sit back, reflect, and come to the conclusion that in some of those situations perhaps YOU could have, and should have, done something differently? I didn't think so. The misunderstanding was the other person’s fault right?
If this is your attitude, then congratulations! You are already a jackass. But if you're still not sure if you fit the mold, here are 5 steps to follow to ensure that you too can become, or continue to be a jackass.
1. Interrupt them while they’re talking. Don’t let them finish a sentence.
You already pretty much know what they’re going to say anyway right? People hold no surprises for you. You have them all figured out. As a matter of fact, if only they would stay quiet and listen to you more, then everybody would be better off. And if they do have the audacity to expect the conversation to actually be a two-way conversation, then just talk louder. Overpowering the other person with volume always works to make sure they come around to see things your way.
2. Multitask while in conversation.
You live in a fast-paced society. You have places to be, things to do, and unimportant conversations to squeeze in between traveling to those places and doing those things. It’s absolutely ridiculous that some people insist that you stop what you’re doing and pay attention to them while having a conversation either in person or via phone. Don’t they realize that you are a master at multitasking? So, go ahead and keep reading those text messages and updating your Twitter and Facebook accounts while they’re talking. Maintaining eye contact and looking for nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and body posture are overrated anyway. Additionally, what kind of dumb-ass can’t talk on the phone and work on the computer, or watch TV, or flip through the radio stations at the same time? I mean, as long as you continue to give them the “uh-huh” and “yeah” responses during the conversation, they should be satisfied. After all, they couldn't have been saying anything important because if there was anything important to say, you would have been the one saying it. (Refer to Rule #1).
3. Always talk about what you've done and your accomplishments.
Let’s face it. People come to you because they want to hear all about you, so why not give them some advice while you’re gracing them with your presence? And if they even dare try to share a memorable moment or bore you with the details of their recent promotion, then
just quickly turn the tables and bring up something that you have done that was even more impressive. Continue to give them advice, don’t give up on them. If they were just more like you and take your advice and follow your lead, then they too will be successful.
4. Don’t worry about misunderstandings. It’s their fault anyway.
Your intentions and the messages you send are always clear. Crystal even. It’s not your fault that others misconstrue what you say or take things the wrong way. They should be able to see things from your perspective after all. And when they do listen to you incorrectly, it’s not your job to try to explain things differently so that they can better understand it. It has nothing to do with how you phrase things. It’s obvious that their perspective is the wrong perspective. They should be able to come to that conclusion easily enough.
5. Tell them they’re stupid when you think they’re being stupid. Even indirectly. They need to hear it.
Facebook is an excellent place to tell your friends just how dumb you think they really are. Post something like, “People who voted for (fill in the blank) are stupid.” Or how about, “Democrats are anti-American.” Or, “Republicans only care about the rich.” And your friends could really use some of your advice where it concerns religion. Certainly they don’t really think the First Amendment is serious about that whole “freedom of … “ and “freedom from religion” thing. You know for sure that you are absolutely right on that one so don’t hold back. Let them know their religion is the fast-track train to Hell. That’ll win friends over every time. And if it doesn't, then screw them anyway. You don’t need diversified opinions and debate in your life anyway. You are always right. They just need to accept that.
Jennifer Furlong has 25 years’ experience in the communication field and teaches communication and public speaking courses in the Savannah area. She earned a B.A. and M.A. in Communication from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. She currently resides in Richmond Hill, Ga. with her family of canines, felines, and humans. Let's be social! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. Just look for Professor SpeechLady. See you in cyberspace.
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