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

Today, I’d like to talk about stress and mixed messages. When stress gets high, mixed messages go even higher.

Mixed messages are chaotic and can pull you apart.

As a result, you feel pulled in two (or three) different directions.

For example, imagine this scene. Let’s just say, you are up to your eyeballs in tasks at work and beg for help. Human Resources sends you a list of three great candidates to fill the assistant slot you have asked for. So far, all is good, right?

However, you claim to be too busy to even set up a meeting with the candidates. Even worse, you say ‘only you’ can do the work properly.

Consequently, you stay overwhelmed. You claim you can’t get enough help. You point your finger to blame “them.”

That is until someone finally speaks out.

How do you respond to ‘hug me but don’t touch me?’

Above all, you, yes you, are giving mixed messages.

Here’s what it sounds like. “Please give me the help, but no one can help me.”

As a result, you have a lose-lose situation.

Similarly, I was thinking about when I was raising my daughters. Here’s a classic mixed messages.

For example, my daughters would be in one of those ‘gotcha’ moods’ constantly taunting each other. Then I asked them to be good and kind to each other. They would nod, look at me sideways, and say quietly, “that’s no fun.”

As a result, I’d request (more like yell). It wa always a variation of ‘Go to your rooms and stay there for the rest of the day.’

Consequently, about an hour later, here comes the mixed message. “Please get down here! Dinner’s ready!”

So, what do you do with that?

Of course, my kids would come down and eat. They also knew they could navigate their way around me very easily. Not good!

Similarly, I get lots of calls from clients who say that mixed messages are driving them bonkers.

For instance, a director from a tech company said “I handed in a proposal that took weeks to complete. My boss complimented me by saying, “Your writing is wonderful. ” Then I got the final draft back from him. It was full of red marks and changes. So, what’s the message I was getting? It made me nuts!”

In the same vein, I heard my memory voice, once again, telling my daughters to stay in their rooms forever and hurry down to dinner.”

Have you ever felt ‘gobsmacked?’

In addition, another client said, ‘”We’re getting ready to hire more staff, even though this is a difficult economic time. My VP told me I was in line for a promotion. I was thrilled. Then, in the same breath, he said we won’t be promoting internally.’ Huh? I was gobsmacked. I don’t know where I stand.”

To clarify, for those who live outside The United Kingdom here is the definition, Gobsmacked means being utterly astonished.

So, my advice now, will keep you from shock and astonishment. No more mixed messages.

Moreover, I have some special advice for the receiver, the person who gets the mixed messages.

Most importantly, it’s three simple things Simple in words, but not so simple when you want to do them.

Above all, here are the three key words: stop, question, reboot.

The power of the word stop.

Firstly, stop. Just stop. When somebody gives you a mixed message, you simply have to stand firm and say stop now.

Furthermore, stop is what i call a pattern interrupt. And the universal meaning is the same everywhere It means exactly what it says. It means stop.

In the same vein, it means what we’re doing isn’t working. Or perhaps it means you have to wait for something else to happen. After that, you can continue with what you want to do.

Above all, the word stop s a power word.

So, please use it and use it wisely.

Use a sentence like “I’m confused. Or, this is puzzling to me. Perhaps say, I feel frozen right now. These mixed messages do not help with what happens now.

How to ask an accountability question.

Secondly, you ask a question. I call it an accountability question. What question, is that you ask. The best I have found after much research is this “What do you want as an outcome of our discussion?” You, as the receiver of the mixed message, can help gain clarity by asking.

After that, you simply wait. You sit quietly and wait for the answer to your question.

Further, no clues, no add-ons. you simply let them answer.

What does it mean to reboot?

In additioon, after saying stop and asking an accoutability question, it’s time to reboot.

Above all, that means you say, “I would appreciate if we could do this differently moving forward. I heard our meeting is all hands on deck with no excuses accepted. I, like others, prepare accordingly.

In addition, there are changes at least five times during the day. Finally, I get the notice of cancellation. In fact, there are no explanations. Then I throw my hands up in frustration. I really need your help with this.

As a result, you are offering information to the other person This is much more effective than just complaining.

Here is the route to better communication.

To sum u, good communication is clear and concise.

Further, if you are the one giving the mixed messages you have some extra work to do.

To clarify, you need to learn the power of consistency.

Moreover, it means a change of how you tackle the tensions, stressors and anxiety in your life.

Practice aligning inner thought with outer actions.

Most importantly, you want to create alignment in your life.

Here’s how: Say what you mean and do what you say.

Back to my daughters. I remember, being so greatly annoyed, I said, ‘go to your rooms for the rest of the year.’ Other than school, you will stay there. Period. I think it was January 3rd.

So, obviously my feeling of powerlessness and frustration had hit an end point.

How long did they stay in their rooms? You guessed it. Till dinnertime.

Agh! Say what you mean and do what you say takes practice.

In conclusion, learn now how to handle the stress of mixed messages. Stay in what i have named “the safe stress zone.”

As a result, you wont over react. No need to shout out your upset. Likewise, then there is no need to keep your anger stuffed. You respond from a centered place of calm and equanimity.

There is much more great information about healthy communication in my Stress Busters online program. Watch the masterclass here or jump right in and sign up.

To youur success,


PS. I would also appreciate you clicking the like button at the bottom. Even better, add a response here about how you handle the stress of mixed messages.

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options