The Headstrong Communicator: Transforming Struggle Into Flow

by Karen Keller, Ph.D.

Have you ever tried communicating with a person who is downright stubborn? They appear immune to all the usual methods of communication and persuasion. Their attitudes are more negative than most. And they seem to glean some pleasure in being this way.

For example, your company contracts with a person who does your media and publicity. But every time you talk with him he is blunt, sarcastic, rolls his eyes (yes, I can hear that over the phone), exerts covert hostility and only gives information on a-need-to -know basis. Fire him? Not possible – it’s the boss’ nephew.

So, what do you do? Here are a few suggestions that will help you deal with the obstinate communicator or should I say non-communicator?

  1. Remain neutral to his behavior. Seeing you fume only adds fuel to the fire. You will open yourself up to cheap shots and other put downs. Simply continue to ask questions when you are met with non-answers.
  2. Wait for an answer. You are in a meeting and you ask a question or there’s an expectation of a reply from him, wait for the response. Turn your focus onto him, directing everyone else to wait for an answer, too. This silence can make him feel uncomfortable enough to answer.
  3. Try not to blame. Accept him for who he is. Instead of saying, ‘You really are a jerk.” Say something like, “Your lack of communication disrupts the team’s flow. How can you help change that?” This also helps him take ownership of his behavior.
  4. Say goodbye. If this person is someone who works for you and the above suggestions do not work then it’s time to part ways.

Don’t give up. Give yourself time to learn to deal with the non-communicative person without sacrificing your integrity. It’s not your job to change the obstinate communicator. It is your job to safeguard the healthy production roads to communication.

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