Psyched Online

Communication Blocks: Part IV

By Paul Schienberg, PhD

This article will address more communication blocks that can interfere with inner personal blocks (player in player and coach in coach) and interpersonal blocks (player to coach, player to player, and coach to player) understandings and athletic performance. It is helpful if you read Communication Blocks: Parts I, II and III.

Eight More Common Internal and Interpersonal Communication Blocks

  1. A coach/athlete changes the subject (defocuses) repeatedly or suddenly without asking if the other party (athlete/coach) is done can imply that their current needs (and dignity) are superior to the other’s needs. The receiving party’s responsibility is to notice the defocusing and how it feels, and be assertive about finishing their first topic if s/he need to.
  2. Hinting or asking leading (indirect) questions to a player or a coach can be OK or can imply “I don’t trust one of us to deal squarely with my subject. “Having a hidden agenda often results in sending double messages, which usually leave the receiver feeling confused, suspicious, discounted and resentful.
  3. Habitual lack of eye contact, speaking hesitantly, or constant apologizing, all say “I feel inferior now. This may be OK if the receiver is comfortable feeling superior. Over time, though, this style promotes loss of respect in both player and coach communication partners, which breeds discounting, poor listening, and ineffective communications.
  4. Habitual nonstop talking will probably condition regular listeners that nothing is expected of them – which are what the speaker will probably get. The jabberer’s real communication need here may be to avoid stressful confrontation, surprises, or intimacy (keep the other emotionally distant), or to avoid scary thoughts and feelings.
  5. The listening person may become overwhelmed (flooded) with information, ideas or feelings. If the speaker doesn’t pause, or if the receiver doesn’t assert (ask them to), real hearing and effective communication will stop. This block often happens when the speaker’s Emotional level is “above the ears” and s/he needs to vent, lecture, or moralize without empathically caring what the listener’s current needs are (implied R-message: “You’re 1-down to me now.”
  6. Athletes and coaches not making enough time to talk clearly and thoroughly about important conflictual issues. Lack of effective discussion (all key needs filled) takes an eventual toll on any player/coach relationship. “We just don’t have time” is false-self deception for “Communication isn’t important enough for me.”
  7. Not checking to see if the athlete or coach each got his/her primary (vs. surface) needs met in key communication exchanges, especially in major disagreements will create an increase in unfinished business. Trust that key communications between the speakers will work over time will probably shrink too.
  8. Defensively denying that the player/coach is doing any of these communication blocks, without trying to investigate and verify, is perhaps the most potent block of all.

A first step toward resolving any of these blocks is by asking the other party is open to feedback on their communication behavior or habits. Agree that such feedback doesn’t mean “You’re bad” or “I’m right.”