Three Ways to Recognize a Hostile Communicator

I don’t actually know three ways to recognize a hostile communicator. I’m just typing because I committed to do it for at least 50 minutes. I’m going to try this for the next few days and see if I’m able to cobble together at least one post.

Hostile communicators I have known:


Bill collectors



i want to define hostile communications as the same thing that nonviolent communication represents. But they’re not really one-to-one relationship.

When people “should” on you.
Often, even people who love you will try to give what has erroneously been labeled as constructive criticism. Not necessarily With permission. So often people say things flippantly that really cause pain. Whenever you hear “should” you automatically resist. Humans don’t like anything they HAVE to do. The key to dealing with “should” is to turn it into “want to”.

“I’ve told you over and over, You should quit that job before it kills you.”

“Honey, you have such a pretty face; but You should lose a few pounds.”

Then there is the lesser known corollary “If I were you, I’d…” This is a more sneaky form of shoulding. There is implied criticism of how you are handling The Thing. And outright criticism that they’d be better at it, anyway.

I’m getting bogged down here. Although, I am actually writing. yay!!!! Go me!!!!!

“I should write an article.”

Instantly, I am de-inspired. Any possible thought that supports writing the article is quickly squashed.

I frequently stop doing this. Is it because I ‘should’ write an article? You betcha!

Here I sit with my house in dissaray. Boxes everywhere. More stuff to pack. I am trying to avoid packing–so even writing an article feels better than that. And I’m not sure exactly how I can add to the panoply of personal development. I don’t think I have anything to share. But of course I do. Everyone does. Only a few people in the vastness of the internet space may ‘get’ what I’m saying. I feel sad when i think about that. But it’s a possibility. In fact, I’m taking steps to try to kick start an article.


“You made me cry!”

“Look what you did!”

“If you’d picked me up on time, I wouldn’t have missed rehearsal. Now I’m off the team.”

Pretty easy to spot ‘blame’ language. Often, one indicator is when the language starts off with, “You…”.

I just started looking off into the trees and realized my commitment is to write without stopping until 11:00. That’s not going to be easy. I’m trying to remember I time I was blamed or that I blamed someone else. I’m always blaming Chip for something, but that’s almost always because he’s present. Uh oh, trying to think of the last time…Oh, I blamed Chip for my loneliness on Football Monday. It was most definitely his fault that I got stuck at home because he didn’t give me time to make other arrangements when he agreed to a guys football night.

On the surface, that may seem to be perfectly justified–I’m still *trying* to make it about him. But it was really about me. So what need might Chip have been trying to meet?

Maybe a need for harmony or connection. He wanted to watch the game with people who actually care, rather than leaving the room every time there’s a tackle.
Maybe a need for play and understanding. He needed some time with his friends. (This is very hard to take, sometimes.)
Maybe even a need for community, spontaneity, and freedom.

Wow. That’s a lot of needs taken care of in a single evening of football with the boys. And I’m feeling so good about writing this that it’s hard not to stop.

So, blame. There’s a lot of blame in commercials, too. Carefully hidden, but definitely implying that you aren’t doing something right and it will hurt you–unless you buy their product. Listerine commercials used to be about having bad breath and not using Listerine is the reason. Shit. Can’t think of any more examples, but maybe they will come later.

So, what’s the third way to recognize hostile communication?

Let’s see…what are other ways?

Shoulds younger and less good looking cousin, ‘Have to’

I have to write an article.

I have to go to the store.

I have to go to work.

I have to eat.

So, have to. What are the things I ‘have had to’ do lately? I had to get an endoscopy. I had to get a kidney transplant. I have to pay my taxes.

Again, when I hear ‘have to’ I immediately resist–even if it’s something I really don’t mind doing. The key to transforming ‘have to’ into something I won’t resist is to change ‘have to’ to ‘want to’. Just like ‘should’ this needs the touch of ‘want’. A spark of want. Realizing that we have a choice can change ‘have to’ to ‘want to’ and voila! we stop resisting.

I have to write an article – clearly I do not have to write an article. nuff said
I have to go to the store – Nope. I can choose to starve or to spend a lot of money on take out or to go without a shower. I have choices.

I have to work – Not true here either. You could choose to NOT to work and live with the consequences. But if you don’t like the consequences, then it’s pretty easy to convert into a WANT phrasae. I want to work because I can put my kids through school. I want to work so I can buy food.

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