Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Declaration of War

Lessons learned from my wife.
Communicating is a simple task. You say what you think, and I get it.  Right?

It usually works, especially about simple things like, "Do you want a banana?"  "Sure, thanks."

It gets more difficult when you add things like being in a hurry or needing to solve a problem.

"All I said was ...."
We hold ourselves accountable for the words only!  "All I asked was where's my hairbrush, and you went off on me."  Actually, the words (7%) were likely overshadowed by accusation and disapproval (93%).  It was the equivalent of an assault, a declaration of war.

We spew a torrent of information, so much more than just the words.  Our non-verbal content is huge, and it's directed at the person with whom we're trying to communicate. The non-verbal content of being angry says, "I'm angry with you!"  Being frustrated says, "I'm frustrated with you; you're the problem here!"  We extend the context of our thinking (our irritation, disappointment, disapproval) to encompass the other person.  Often, the harder we try (escalation) to make our point, the worse it gets until we're fighting about something that hardly matters.  Like which way the toilet paper should be facing; people actually fight about that.  Or, "Where's the remote?"  People fight about trivialities like that, too.

We're idiots.  Until we learn.  The sooner the better, right?

We can move from head-on encounters to working out a solution side-by-side.
In a head-on confrontation where you're aiming everything at each other, it's a conflict where lots of damage gets done.  In a side-by-side effort, you've announced that, "you're more important to me than this issue is, so let's  figure it out together."  You can choose to convey acceptance, interest, and approval as the non-verbal part of the conversation.

After we ourselves learn, we can teach our children, but not before.  In husband/wife things, it's what helps us grow together rather than apart as the years go by.  In parent/child, it's what makes the difference in the transition years as they're becoming adults.