Diet coke may not taste great but gives you the sense of having cola without the sugar and packing on the weight. Every time you are tired imagine you crack open a can of diet coke to pick you up and give you that little bit of extra energy.
After a while you stop thinking about being tired. You just end up drinking the diet coke because your brain has associated feeling tired with diet coke.
There was a famous experiment conducted by Ian Pavlov in 1902. Whenever he fed his dogs, he rang a bell. He repeated this procedure over and over again.
After a while instead of feeding the dogs he rang the bell. The dogs immediately started salivating even when there was no food around.
The dog created an association between the bell and the food. In psychology they refer to this as a conditioned response.
The neurons inside our brain become conditioned to a stimulus. The more you repeat the same act the stronger it becomes.
When there is a communication roadblock and you disagree about the who makes a decision, or a specific event or problem, most of us act and talk in a specific way.
We say, “you don’t understand me. That’s not the way we do things around here. Your behavior is appalling. You need to change.”
We react without awareness
We either argue or prove our point of view. Sometimes we shrug our shoulders or turn our backs. Men most times shut down and keep silent.
All these behaviors and the way we communicate is a conditioned stimulus.
It’s like drinking diet coke. We drink it without thinking.
When couples are stuck in this loop or automatic condition it’s hard to listen to your partner or feel that your partner really understand what you are trying to communicate to them in the first place.
There is a communication breakdown.
The starting point therefore to overcome a communication barrier is to break this conditioned response.
Stop drinking diet coke to get that extra energy.
Replace your current communication with active listening skills. It sounds easy but once you keep doing this over and over again you will feel heard.