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SOB Or ESP: What’s Your Communication Style?
by Tracey C. Jones

Texan: “Where are you from?”

Harvard Grad: “I come from a place where we do not end our sentences with prepositions.” Texan: “OK -- where are you from, smart-aleck?”

We are rapidly losing the art of communication. The very trait which separates us from the animals is about to be our downfall, but fear not! There are ways we can rally and save humanity. First and foremost, ask yourself: Do I communicate to serve myself or do I communicate to serve others?

In other words, when you communicate, are you an SOB: (Self-Oriented Behavior) or do you use ESP: (Emotional, Spiritual, Personal)? In order to get to the heart of the issue, you have to get to the heart. Communication is not simply the external circuitry of words transmitted from your mouth to others’ ears, but rather an internal reverberation of thoughts between your mind and your heart. Communication is simply the golden rule. It’s part etiquette, part ethics, and part just being a decent human being. That means delineating boundaries for your emotional side so everyone can play in the sandbox nicely without getting into fights.

You can’t expect people to see your point of view if you can’t see theirs. When we get squeezed what’s inside comes out. All too often this takes the form of uncivil discourse. People are polarized by their tendency to see communication as a battle: somebody wins, somebody loses; too bad, so sad; in your face; suck it up, butter cup. It seems to be forgotten that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And if you can’t get comfortable floating in the fluidity of humanity, it’s sunk.

Opinions are not a competitive sport. They are deeply held convictions. So here’s a quick and easy way to assess if you are practicing great communication skills or if you are just being an SOB.

SOB: Self-Oriented Behavior. Let’s face it: A lack of compassion is downright distasteful and has nothing to do with who or what is right and wrong. If you constantly feel the need to seize and to preach the “ministry of me” then you are an SOB communicator. SOBs exhibit the following traits in their communication:

• Aggression

• Seeking sympathy

• Manipulation

• Clowning or mocking tone

• Competition

• Domination

• Labeling

• Bullying/cyberbullying

If you’re an SOB, you view communication as a battlefield. Your level of indignation grants you the right to go from silence to thermonuclear in your content and tone. You have a hard time with dissenting points of view because you assume anyone who doesn’t agree with you is a bigot. This type of behavior has been amplified by technology and mainstream media which grants unfiltered, unchecked, and ample coverage to an unending parade of poltroons. Winston Churchill said it best, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” Now let’s look at the flip side of the coin: How can you best communicate with another in a way that affords the respect and civility that binds you to others in deeper and more knowledgeable ways? Here are the ways to win friends and influence people and ensure that you can talk to someone’s heart, thus guaranteeing an open and honest dialogue sure to leave both parties enlightened and valued.

ESP: Emotional, Spiritual, Personal. It’s like extrasensory perception on steroids. They say it ain’t what you say, it’s the way that you say it. Truer words were never spoken. The manner in which you connect is the most important factor in communication. If you do it well, the details are superfluous. Someone can completely disagree with everything you say, but still totally respect you as a person. The truth, no matter how hard it is to hear, should always have an element of love accompanying it. As the saying goes, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. The person who can accomplish this is a leader of unparalleled magnitude and a true uniter, not a divider.

ESPs exhibit the following traits in their communication:

• Individuality

• Respect

• The Golden Rule

• One-on-one

• Private

• Peace maker

• Acceptance

• Civility

The ESP communicator also understands that strongly held convictions do not necessarily classify someone as a “hater.” They respect the other person’s emotions and personal beliefs. Communication isn’t some sort of Darwinian survival of the fittest. The ESP communicator firmly believes that we are not to trample one another out of existence with the butts of our heels and the slices of our tongues, but rather to be kind to one another, especially when during disagreements. Churchill had another great quote about this type of communicator, “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

Beautiful people see beauty; hateful people see hate. Someone once said, “Those who spend their time looking for the faults in others have no time to correct their own.” Once you get serious about discussing and not just cussing, you’ll take your communication to a new realm. Be kind to humankind because it’s all you’ve got.

About the author

Tracey C. Jones is a US Air Force veteran, entrepreneur, speaker, and publisher. She speaks to audiences across the nation on leadership, accountability, business success, and other topics. Her latest book is “Beyond Tremendous: Raising the Bar on Life.” To learn more visit www.TremendousTracey.com.