Stress & Mixed Messages: How to Stop the Maddening Communication from Messages that Are Inconsistent and Unclear

Hi everybody! Sylvia Lafair here.

Today, I’d like to talk about stress and mixed messages. When stress gets high, mixed messages get even higher, and I was thinking about when I was raising my daughters, and you know, I did mix messages. I’m sure most of you can relate to this one. I’d say, ‘Go to your room and stay there for the rest of the day,” just ready to tear my hair out. Anyway, about an hour later, I’m yelling up, ‘Come down here! Dinner’s ready!’

So, what do you do with that? You come down and eat, but these mixed messages jungle and jangle and make us always feeling a little crazed, and in the past week, I’ve been getting a lot of calls from clients, and here are a few of what they’ve been saying: one said, “I handed in a proposal that we’re getting ready for the future, and I handed in a proposal and my boss said, ‘Your writing is wonderful,’ and then I got the proposal back to put in its final form. It was trashed and slashed and filled with red marks and changes.” So, what’s the message I was getting? Anyway, that’s one.

Another one said, ‘we’re getting ready to hire some new people even if it’s a difficult time, and I was told I was in line, and then I was told we’re recruiting outside.’ So, I don’t know where I stand with any of this and somebody else said, “you know, I’m going to wait to start the meeting because I said I would be a little bit late, and I’ll wait. The boss said, ‘I’ll wait to start the meeting,’ and then of course started it without me there, and I’m not sure how to handle all this.” So, I am giving right now advice to the receiver, the person who’s getting the mixed messages and it’s three simple things. Simple in words but not so simple when you want to do them.

So, it means stop, question, reboot.

Those are the three. Now, the first one is, stop when somebody is giving you mixed messages. All the time you simply have to say stop now. Stop is what we call a pattern interrupt. It’s like throwing ice water. The word stop universally means the same thing everywhere. It means exactly what it says. It means stop and it means what we’re doing isn’t working or you have to wait for something else before you can do what you want to do. What the word stop is a power word. So, please use it. The first thing you do is, say stop, and you say exactly what’s going on.
I’m getting confused. I’m getting puzzled. I’m feeling frozen. These mixed messages I’m getting are not helping. That’s one.

The next is, you ask a question. I call it an accountability question, and the question is, what do you want as an outcome from this conversation? You ask the other person, who’s been giving the mixed messages? and then you wait. You wait, you don’t answer. You don’t give them clues. You simply let them answer, and then you have to reboot, and say, I would appreciate it if we could do this differently, because when I’m getting the meeting is on in the morning, and then half hour later, the meeting is off, and then another 45 minutes later, the meeting is on, and then the meeting is off. It makes me crazy, and I need your help in this. So, you’re also offering something to the other person.

Good communication is really clear. So, that’s from the end of the person who’s receiving the mixed messages. The one who’s giving the mixed messages, you’ve got work to do. A lot of good deep powerful work to do, because what you have to keep in your mind, and I would put this on your computer, on the refrigerator, on your mirror, in your bathroom, and it’s, it says, ‘from here on, I will say what I mean and do what I say.’ That’s called consistency and and we’re looking for that. Say what I mean and do what I say, even if what you’re going to is, look I don’t have an answer for you right now. We’re going through a difficult time and I may have to pivot or change my mind or change the direction, but I will let you know and we will talk about it. So, you give people clues to this. You don’t just keep throwing out the mixed messages, and if I were raising my kids now, I would not go to that place I did, which is, go to your room for the rest of the day.

I remember once saying, ‘go to your room for the rest of the year and I think it was January 3rd. So, obviously my frustration and my stress had hit the the end point to all of us. We need to learn how to handle stress and keep it in what I call, ‘the safe stress zone in that middle zone,’ because then we’re not overreacting with lots of noise or pretending nothing’s wrong or stuffing it and keeping it in.

Now, what I would appreciate is, if you found this helpful, if you would click the like button at the bottom or at least put a response in on how you’re handling stress. That would be wonderful and look for more information about this next week.

Thank you so much. This is to your success. Thank you.

Sylvia Lafair