Communication is roleplay because the way you communicate makes you act in a certain way. Our feelings and emotions make us react in certain ways, when under pressure. But how you react and communicate under pressure is directly connected to how people perceive you. When I was the Ninja-stutterer, I was constantly under pressure to fit in.
I used to have passive-aggressive behavior towards others. I think it is normal for stutterers to react in a certain because they are outside the norm, and people expect you to stutter. At least for me, I can say that I wanted so badly to fit in. I said whatever felt right, just to be accepted.
A person who cares about that particular role will then act in conformity to the group’s expectations because she wants the group to validate her identity.- source
I didn’t care about my identity, I just wanted to be part of a group. So I made myself fit in and thus abandoning my own desires to be who I wanted to be. At least for a time. I got the group to form my identity and validate that identity. I was successful in having a membership. But I wasn’t successful in becoming who I wanted to be. A person just like everyone else; a person without stutter.
I believe that stutterers move on a continuum like the one below. More precise I think that communication is roleplay. That is what we’ll dive into in this article.
How is communication relevant – or why bother with it?
Stuttering is complex. It cannot be boiled down to just something neurological or physical. I believe there’s more to it. And in today’s society – in this network society – you have to be so interesting, so special that everyone want’s to be friends with you. Only then can you survive. We’re always in a position where we have to sell ourselves. Either for career advances or getting the boy/girl of your dreams. The foundation for this is (inter)personal communication and who suffers the most in relation to personal communication? I can think of at least a couple of disabilities where stuttering is counted in.
Obeying group norms thus becomes the outward sign of one’s good standing as a group member, and a crucial step in reclaiming the rewards provided by group membership. – source
In today’s society, the goal is to be picked for whatever battle you fight. You want to be chosen. But that is hard if your communication- and social skills are limited. And it gets even harder when you’re outside the social norm.
How you react and communicate under stress is part of the role you’re playing
In this article, we look at 4 ways to react when under stress. Only when you are conscious about your reaction, will you have the knowledge on how to change your behavior. If you find that you communicate inappropriately, you can change for the better.
If you want to become better at communicating and learn more about the role you’re playing you have to know where it hurts. You also have to know your limitations and acknowledge the limitations. Otherwise, you will face difficult times. Becoming better at communicating your thoughts is beneficial to everybody and it relieves anxiety and insecurity.
Our communication style is closely linked to our personality – and that’s the problem
Look at people from a distance, and you can almost determine what type of personality they have. The way we communicate with other people is closely linked to our personality. You can say that our communication style fits our personality. And that is the difficult part because when we change our way of communicating we change our personality.
So when you stutter, all your communication will show that you stutter. Just think of your secondary behavior. What does it say about you?What about the way you dress? Your level of eye-contact?
Everything you do communicate who you are and what you believe about yourself. That is because there is no such thing as non-communication. Everything is communication whether you like it or not. When you change the way you communicate, you change your personality, and that is a threat to the group. The carrot though is that you can have better relations with the other members of the group when you communicate in better ways.
The group will not tolerate change – unless it’s beneficial for the group.
No matter who you are you will have communication traits that are bad. It takes time, to wipe out the bad traits. In the following, we will take a closer look at what the bad communication traits are, and what to go for instead. You will learn to play a new role because communication is roleplay. You will also learn how to get out rid of the bad communication traits.
4 types of communication behavior as a stutterer and person
You will most likely identify yourself in one of the following communication behavior. I know I did. Every type of reaction whether it’s the aggressive or the passive is defense mechanisms. The thing about defense mechanisms is that they help of justify our behavior. Defense mechanisms are great to have because they protect you and they work, but you must use them in the right situations and the right time and place. There are 4 ways communication is roleplay. They are:
Aggressive roleplay – or when you say “This is what we’re doing if you don’t like it, guess what, I don’t care!”
You feel better than other people. Often you find yourself thinking that it’s obvious how things are connected! And why can’t people see it? Why are they so stupid? Aggressive roleplay does not leave room for other ways of seeing things. There is only one way – the way of the role-keeper. The good part of being aggressive is that you express your needs and emotions, but the bad part is how you do it. In this kind of roleplay, there is only one way of communication; through dominating and being authoritative.
This kind of roleplay is characterized by:
- Sudden attack
- Talk a lot, and not listening
Blind spots on the role
It’s the same for every role. When you deep in it, you are blind to how you react and come across people. It’s normal that people are insecure and uneasy when being around aggressive behavior. The thing is that the aggressive person can lash out randomly at every moment. And the language use is hard, but the aggressive person cannot see it. People stay away from the aggressive person, and the aggressive person doesn’t know why.
Soften up. Show other people your emotions and vulnerability. Be human. The thing with people being in the aggressive role is that they don’t show emotions. They have a poker face and a wall to protect them. It’s hard to open up when you’ve locked yourself away. If you play the aggressive role you can ask politely for constructive feedback on how you’re doing. Ask them how you can be better at communicating.
Listen and listen good. When people experience that you’re really listening they will feel a connection and that makes you human. Listening means to understand what’s behind the words. Not the words themselves.
Passive roleplay – or when you say “Oh I’m sorry, sooo sorry, I’ll just hide up against the wall”
Feeling like you want to hide? Being a victim? Not worth other people’s time? In this kind of roleplay, the person hopes that other people see his needs. Like they can read his mind. Of course, that’s not going to happen, so the passive communication role justifies their actions with negative self-talk. You don’t allow yourself to be happy, and you’re communicating this. It’s a role where the people inhabiting it are constant approval-seeking. The person seeks other people approval and seeks not to upset other people. They also have a tendency to other’s preferences first and setting their own aside.
The characteristics of the passive role are:
- Giving up
- Approval seeking
And they don’t even know it!
This passive individual let other people decide for them. They don’t say what they have on their mind. In other words, you have to drag their opinion out of them. Their way of being and communication style makes everyone uneasy. Why doesn’t he say anything? What’s he thinking? are questions that come to mind of other people.
When you meet a passive person, you too have a responsibility to help them out of the role. Because they can change, they just need a soft push. Yesterday I was out with a friend. Every time I said something, he would be quiet. It made me nervous. Why didn’t he respond? Did I say something wrong? Didn’t he like my suggestion? So I asked him what he thought every time he was silent. And 9 out of 10 times he liked my suggestions. And it made me feel good to know what he thought even though he didn’t like everything I said. Now I had something to work with and do something about.
And that’s the way out, say what’s on your mind even if it’s the same as the person next to you. If in doubt say it. If angry say it. If happy say it.
Passive-aggressive roleplay – or when you answer “Nothing” to “What’s the matter?”
The essence of all the worst traits. The passive-aggressive.You seek to please everyone. You don’t have an opinion of your own. The outcome is that you make everyone uneasy and come off as manipulating. This type of communication has its roots in the social norms. We all want to fit in. We want people to like us. What’s not better than agreeing with everyone? Easy, right? Every time you agree with someone and then 5 minutes after agree with someone else with an opposite opinion you signal something different. You’re a chameleon.
Passive aggressive people tend to express their negative feelings in an indirect manner, rather than state their disapproval directly to the person concerned. – source
This type of behavior is similar to the passive, but with traits from the aggressive. Because you might not say your opinion directly but you whisper it in the corners. Who can trust you? What are you saying behind people’s back? There is an inconsistency with your body language, voice, and facial expressions. Because of that, it’s difficult to be angry at the passive-aggressive; everything seems just fine (on the surface)!
Passive-aggressive behavior is characterized by:
- Deliberate procrastination
- Avoiding direct conflict and then attacks in the shadows
- Friendly on the outside but you sense disapproval
- Agrees to do something and then does whatever he likes
- Hostile attitude
- Complaints of injustice
The passive-aggressive is very child-like. They are hard to spot from the passive, but the difference is in the hostile attitude and shadow attacks. The passive behavior is more depressing.
Is somebody avoiding you? Why? Is it because of the inconsistency in your communication? That you’re playing the passive-aggressive role? Focus on what you’re doing, saying and in every way communicating. What are you thinking and what are you saying? Is it consistent?
If you know someone who is passive-aggressive in his communication, then by all means confront him. You can say: “It’s like you’re saying something, but mean something else.”
The golden middle way – or when you say “This article is a great idea, and then we can add awesome self made images to enhance it”
Assertiveness has been used as a way to enhance the quality of life along with cognitive behavior therapy in people who stutter. Being assertive is about expressing your thoughts even if you think the same as everybody else. It’s also about showing emotions and in every way communicating directly and honestly. What comes out of your mouth is consistent with your overall body language.
When you’re assertive you know your limits and what you want. Above all, you say what you want to say even when you disagree. Especially when you disagree.
Scloss, Espin, Smith and Suffolk (1987) also found that employers produced significantly more favorable ratings of PWS at employment interviews after they had received specialist assertiveness training relating to their stutter. – source
The goal of assertive roleplay is to have an equal dialogue with your peers. You respect each other, listens, and exchange wishes and opinions.
Characteristics of assertive roleplay
- Say what you want to say
- Take responsibility for your actions and opinion
- Respect other people
- Great listener
- Aware of body language and “mouth language”
In general being assertive is to be forthright about your wants and your needs. But in the process also considering the needs and wants of others. It’s about accepting that if you ask for something you don’t necessarily get it.
Playing the role
The assertive role is something we have to practice every day of our life. We are not born assertive as we are not born aggressive. It’s something we’ve learned along the way.
What’s the first step you can do today to become assertive? For me, it was expressing my opinion regardless of what had already been said. It was also to listen better and not interrupt or finish the other person’s sentences. The third thing I am working is to ask great questions and get people to say what’s on their mind.
I’m still a work in progress in becoming assertive in my communication. But take it one step at a time. No need to rush into things and changing 17 things at once. Take one trait of your current communication style and enhance it.
When communication is roleplay you have to play it right
We’ve learned that the role you’re playing is maintained by the people around you. That’s the dialectical relation we’ve talked about earlier. When you’re expected to behave in a certain way, you do it. Otherwise, it will be embarrassing.
It will benefit you to be assertive and it will enhance group performance.
When people’s social identity is salient, they perceive themselves and others as an ingroup–as cognitively grouped as “us” who are more alike than contrasting others or “them”. This similarity creates an expectation that“ we” ought to agree and respond in the same way (in reactions, judgement, attitudes, behaviour) and motivates people to bring about such agreement (Haslam, Oakes, Reynolds, & Turner, 1999; Turner, 1991). Such motivation for agreement enables mutual influence to occur opening up the possibility that one’s the-ories, expectations and beliefs about oneself and the world can change. Knowing that those in the same psychological ingroup do X rather than Y, or do more of X, is motivating and can affect one’s own behaviour. –source
Further, it is those group members that best represent the group and its interests (i.e. leadership) that have the most impact in influencing the normative trajectory of the group. There is a role for leadership in helping to clarify what it means to be a group member (e.g. through social comparison that highlights what makes the group special and distinctive), in building consensus around definitions of who “we” are, and embedding these in structures, rituals and practices (e.g. Haslam, Reicher, & Platow, 2011; Turner, Reynolds, & Subašic, 2008) –source
Where to go from here when communication is roleplay
[…] one may want to belong to a group because of the prospect of future personal rewards, or just because one values the group and takes the group’s goals and interests as one’s own, even at the cost of overlooking or restricting individual gains. – source
Communication is roleplay and it makes us act in a certain way. The question is why are you part of a particular group? Is it in your interest or the groups? People abandon groups when the group is not capable of validating a particular identity. Have you thought about what you ideal identity is? Does the group validate it or does it maintain your stuttering?
A person who cares about that particular role will then act in conformity to the group’s expectations because she wants the group to validate her identity. – source
If you care about your stuttering and the role you’re playing, you must do something to change group dynamics – at least for your own good.
From here, the next step is to read People expect you to stutter – there I said it!