Daddybeard and I are master miscommunicators. Typically our miscommunications occur via Facebook Messenger. I cannot even tell you the amount of unnecessary standoffs we’ve had as a result of neglecting to put “lol” or the wry winking emoji at the end of a statement.
We’ve even had some miscommunications over the phone. Even when we can hear one another’s tone, when you can’t see that the person on the other line is trying to read an important email whilst talking to you, it’s very easy to misinterpret their lapse in attention as dismissiveness.
But miscommunicating in person the way we do takes a special mix of failed mind-reading and memory shortages, with a little selective deafness thrown in for good measure.
For example, I know for a fact I told Daddybeard that I wanted everyone’s Halloween costumes to be red and black so we would match. We purchased a red-and-black Harley Quinn costume for me, and a black-and-white Joker top for Daddybeard. Because the kids wanted to be a king and queen, I had the brilliant idea that we would do an Arkham/Deck of Cards mashup family costume. Daddybeard would pull double duty as the Joker. As Harley Quinn, I would embody the Jack of diamonds (yes, technically Harley Quinn would actually be a joker in a deck of cards, too, but work with me here). Our daughter would be the Queen of Hearts (thanks to the popularity of Alice in Wonderland, finding that costume turned out to be super easy), and our son would be the King of Clubs (or Spades…whichever one would be easiest for me to cut out of cardstock). The Queen of Hearts costume was, of course, red and black. The problem was with the King costume Daddybeard ordered for our son.
We had found a king costume in Party City that was red, but my husband, ever the bargain-hunter, thought we might be able to find it cheaper online. He did, and he ordered it. Imagine my consternation when I discovered upon its delivery that the costume, while very cute, was also very purple.
Later that evening I asked Daddybeard why he saw fit to order a purple king’s costume when the family color scheme was red and black. He proceeded to tell me that I hadn’t mentioned a color scheme. I gently (read: testily) reminded him that I definitely discussed the color scheme because it was a major part of the theme and “anyway what playing cards have purple kings on them?!” His response: “Purple is for royalty!”
Cue me throwing my hands up in exasperation.
I agree with my highly intelligent wife. We are master miscommunicators. This last year has proven very trying for us for a plethora of reasons. But the central core of our issues came down to miscommunication. George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Why do we do these things so poorly when we know the devastation that can be wrought? I asked my wife last night how her women’s praise night at the church was.
Locmommy: “Why, you have to know my every thought?”
Daddybeard: “God no! But I am practicing ‘active listening’.”
Locmommy: “Then you can actively listen to how my day at work was.”
Daddybeard: (in my head) “I wonder if I’ll ever get to meet Judge Judy.”
(Locmommy’s note: This is not at all how the conversation went.)
Although this is very trivial, you can almost see trouble right around the bend based solely on misinterpretation of intent and miscommunication.
Locmommy has a way of coming up with brilliant ideas and sharing only a part of them with me. She did not tell me about the color scheme (I’m approximately 96% sure of that). Party City has a knack for overpricing their costumes. They do sell the best Halloween candies (which is another fight we’ve been having. Halloween has the best variety of candy (that’s fact) but Locmommy for some reason believes Easter does. Which is nonsense. We’ll talk about that later.). I believed that I could find his costume cheaper online. I got a crown and robe for $10 whereas just the crown alone at Party City was $10. I told Locmommy this and she urged me to get the costume quickly before it sold out. I did that. I admit that I didn’t mention the color to her at that time. But the reason I didn’t was because I didn’t know that was important. The only reason that the girl’s dress is the “right” color is because that’s the only color I found. It was purely accidental. Had it been green that’s what I would have bought because I was not told how important color was. Now I know. Hence the training in active listening above.
In my defense, purple is for royalty.
I don’t know how Easter candy got brought into this. Regardless, even though we’ve been married for over 12 years, we are nowhere near experts at communicating. Sometimes we get it right and the results are amazing. And other times…you get purple king costumes.
“You have 2 ears and 1 mouth. The reason is so you listen twice as much as you speak.” You know this saying that people use to get you to be quiet. As ridiculous as that sounds, there’s so much truth to taking the time to listen to each other. Active listening also encompasses asking the right questions to get a full and deeper understanding of what is being said. We have a way of saying things but meaning something different or believing that the other person can fill in the blanks. There’s a laziness in us when we are not as deliberate in our interactions as we should be. A lot of the problems we experience as individuals, as a community, as a faith body, or as a nation we bring upon ourselves because we take how we communicate for granted. Until we can individually own our shortcomings in not taking the time to effectively communicate with each other we will continue to fall short of our true potential with each other. If you take the time to listen, you might just learn something.
Well said, Daddybeard.
Till Next Time…