The above is a satire of John McEnroe. However, it represents many people. It shows how a person can complain so much that people stop listening to them. Their complaints fly like a plague of locusts! Trying to stop a compulsive complainer from complaining is like trying to stop a sewer from stinking! Some people complain so often, that they become known for that their noise in the same way that ducks are associated with a ‘quack’ sound. They wonder why people don’t take action to try to stop them from complaining! (like trying to stop water from being wet)

This is a paradox. These compulsive complainers must find it so frustrating because few would regard their objections seriously. This would make them want to complain even more! This would, in turn, make people disregard them even more!

The frequency of how often we push our point of view can also affect whether people listen to us or not. Bjorn Borg (John’s rival) was known for his cool and emotionless demeanor, while McEnroe was famed for his tantrums on the tennis court. Borg almost never protested a decision from a line judge. When he did, people took notice. It was so out of character for him to complain that it must be legit. I’ve only seen Bjorn complain once. During the staredown, the silence was deafening. The sports announcers that were hosting the tennis match commented, “I’d hate to be that line judge now”.

In the above pic, each nail represents a complaint. The fewer complaints, the more impact that each one makes. Borg and McEnroe were the opposite extremes and they help me to express the point that I’m trying to make. The board that has many nails protruding from it represents John McEnroe whereas the board with few nails would represent Bjorn Borg.

Imagine if the board can talk. “I’m not hurting the foot enough. I think I’ll add more nails”. Later. “I’m still not hurting the foot enough. I’ll add even more nails.” THAT’S OPPOSITE TO WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS! Adding more nails only reduces the impact that each nail makes. However, that’s exactly what the compulsive complainer does. “They’re not listening to me! I think I’ll complain more.” Later. “They still don’t take me seriously. I’ll complain even more!”

How do we learn to communicate effectively? Most of us learned by trial and error. If an episode goes well, we tend to repeat that style. If our delivery was done poorly or misunderstood, we learned from that too. – Well some of us did. I’d like to talk about the ones that didn’t, don’t, and perhaps never will. They have it all wrong. Communication is just that, communication. It’s a transfer of information between people. It isn’t a contest like a tennis match. It isn’t a battle to defeat your adversary. There aren’t any victory parades and you don’t get a trophy.

As usual, I’m using an extreme example. There aren’t that many people like that. It’s just that they’re so annoying that it seems like their numbers are more than they actually are. I’d like to call these people a ‘one’. On the other end where ten is, I’d like to place someone that’s an outstanding communicator. They get their message across in a very effective way. If the other disagrees, they don’t ‘lose face’ or feel that their honor has been violated. They don’t believe that their sense of identity is defined by how many arguments they win or how good they are at forcing their opinion down someone’s throat.

We all fit on this scale somewhere. Some people are a seven on the scale while others are a three.




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