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The art of communicating under stress

As well rounded individuals we have access to four basic ways of perceiving the world: feeling, hearing, seeing and understanding. Of course there are many more ways available to us such as taste, smell, touch, as well as intuition. However, when it comes to making sense of the world, the four primary basics are what we come to rely on from a very early age. Even if we are blind or deaf, we still have an energetic component to these physical attributes and are able to differentiate between them. Each mode has specific gifts and qualities and when we are in balance we have access to all four of our primary senses. We do however, have one that we rely on more readily and this becomes our stronger sense, we also have a least accessible.

Each mode offers many strengths and it would take a chapter for each to do them all justice however, in a nutshell:

Visuals - Great visionaries; they see the bigger picture and are able to really see the potential of a person or situation.

Tonals - Fantastic at reading between the lines and picking up on the nuances. They are able to hear what is not said and can give other people the feeling of being totally understood.

Kinesthetics - Highly empathetic, caring and understanding

Digitals - Extremely logical, clear thinking and kind.

It is not always obvious when we are balanced and using all the senses, which is our strongest mode, however, when we reflect on how we respond in a situation where we are under extreme stress most people, recognise themselves straight away and sometimes our partners and close friends see us clearer than we can!

When we go under stress, not only do the other sensory perceptions check out, we also streamline our strongest sense and lose many of the gifts it usually brings us.

Visuals - Lose their ability to see the bigger picture and their vision becomes tunnelled. Once they loose perspective, all the wisdom of being able to see the broader picture gets channeled into seeing only what is wrong with the person they are in conflict with. They are unable to see their part in it and believe they know exactly what the other needs to do in order to put things right and will often express their opinions forcefully.

Tonals - Under stress stop listening to what is being said and lose their ability to read between the lines. Instead they will go into their internal dialogue and hear what isn’t being said at all. Everything becomes exaggerated, for example, you say “I’m sorry, I can’t see you tonight” and they hear “I don’t love you anymore”.

Kinesthetics - Loose themselves in a different way, they feel they have hurt the person they are in conflict and focus all their attention on putting it right for them. They often exaggerate how bad it is for the other person and get very emotional. All they want is for everything to be ok again even if it is to their own detriment.

Digitals completely switch off all emotion when under stress. They become calm cool and collected and can completely dismiss the person they are in conflict with labelling them over emotional. They can be very dismissive and will often walk away and do something else until the person they are in conflict with ‘calms down’.

So it is clear that often we win or lose an argument because of the way our primary mode operates, not because we are necessarily right or wrong. Over time this can lead to resentment in relationships. The problem is compounded as relationships are often shaped under stress and unhealthy patterns and hierarchies can be established that are very far from the truth. These kinds of relationships, whether personal or professional, have no true foundation and serve to squash an individual’s ability to reach their full potential.

When you recognise what is really happening during conflict, it is futile to continue and essential that you stop and take some time to get back into balance. Go for a walk and release the excess adrenaline or use specific techniques to get you back into balance Whatever else you do, first of all stop. Stop wasting valuable time and energy and honour each other’s differences. If we are to live and work in harmony, creating successful, happy and healthy relationships, it is crucial to any kind of lasting success that we have more understanding for ourselves and for the people in our lives, both at home and at work.



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