I just had to laugh when I saw this cartoon. The amount of situations I have been in during my life that have turned out badly, just because of miscommunication. I can’t even begin to count them.
Isn’t it funny how we think that we have been clear when we’ve said something to someone else and yet they respond in a way that completely mystifies us? We have a clear idea of what we said, so why don’t they? Yet when someone says something to us, and we respond in a certain way, we can’t understand why they don’t get it.
I can just see the man looking at the police officer and saying, “but it says no parking, not no peeing.” Yet the policeman is adamant that something has been done that is wrong.
We can get so caught up in our version of what we think is right, that we don’t even see it from the other person’s point of view. I caught myself looking at my husband the other day and saying, “Don’t you think we should quickly put the recycling out before it gets dark?”
He responded by saying that he thought that would be a good idea. I waited for half an hour and the recycling still hadn’t been taken out, so I decided to just get on and do it myself. By this time however, I was in a mood and was putting the recycling away in the noisiest possible way possible. I was clunking glasses and smashing cans and folding newspapers – all the while making disgruntled noises loud enough for the neighbours to hear!
There was absolutely no mistaking that I was not happy doing this recycling. Doesn’t he understand by now that taking the recycling out is his job? I fold it up neatly all through the week as I clean up, but it’s his job to take it out and put it on the curb ready for collection on Monday morning.
By the time I’d almost broken some of the glass and looked like a recycling plant all by myself, he eventually looked up at me and with a quizzical look on his face said, “Why are you making so much noise? Is something wrong?”
Well, by this time, I was ready to knock him over the head with one of the glass jars. He finally realised that maybe he should be helping me with the recycling and got up from his chair and duly carried out all the organised piles of glass, plastic and paper.
While he was outside putting it on the curb, I had a chance to calm down and reflect on why I had got so upset. According to me, I had quite clearly hinted that the recycling should be put out before dark. He had agreed. So, why was I upset?
Well, it was rapidly growing dark and I know that he doesn’t like to take the recycling out when it’s dark. So, my anxiety level was rising the closer to dusk that it got, because I knew that I would have to take out the recycling if it was dark and he had not yet done it. I then started thinking about the fact that I was the one that washed and cleaned and packed the recycling all through the week and all he has to do is the one task of taking it out on a Sunday night. I was starting to make up self pitying excuses in my head for why I was justified in my anger. He, on the other hand, was blissfully unaware of the whole argument that was brewing in my head. By the time he came to and noticed that something was wrong, I was in full flow.
Now if I had taken the time to clearly state that I would like to take the recycling out now, because it was getting dark. He would have had clear instructions and a clear indication of what I was asking him to do. I was talking in a way that was trying to “pretty it up” so that he would get up and do the recycling, and in the meantime, all he needed was a clear ask.
He was really bemused by the fact that I had got so upset about merely taking out the recycling, and after I had calmed down a little, I began to see the funny side of it too. A few hours later, I asked him how he would like to be reminded about taking out the recycling, so that it didn’t sound like nagging and I didn’t have to get anxious about the encroaching dusk. He looked at me and simply said, “just ask if we can take out the recycling now and I will respond with either a “yes” or a “can you remind me in half an hour?”
By sitting down and talking the whole thing through, we had come up with a way that could help both of us to understand what was really happening around the issue of taking out the recycling. We had come up with a plan to make it as stress free, simple and easy as it really should be.
Is there a way that you and someone with whom you are in relationship are miscommunicating at the moment? Maybe you could ask them how they would like to be talked to about a certain situation, so that no stress or miscommunication happens.
I have decided that I would far prefer to have a calm and quiet Sunday evening, than getting upset about such a little thing again. How about you?