Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Communication Skills

My son and I had a conversation about communication last week, and how ineffective some communication can be, because people don’t take the chance to say what they really want or think, or don’t ask for clarification.

For example. You’re going out for lunch and your friend says “Where do you want to eat?” and of course, you reply that you don’t care. When your friend names a place you don’t like, you can be stuck, unless you’re honest and say what you feel.

How many meaningless conversations do we have like that?

Here’s another. “What are you doing on the weekend?” a friend asks. And you reply nothing. Then that first person asks if you want to go shopping, and you’re stuck again. So you either go shopping, lie and say you forgot you had plans, or be honest and say you don’t feel like shopping, what about taking in a movie?

Adding to that, would be the questions about time. Why can we not be definitive, be honest? Do we feel the other person would not like us if we said we said we didn’t want to go shopping, made another suggestion and took control by naming a specific time?

My problem with communicating is I initially have the conversation one sided, making up my part and the other person’s response, all in my head and treating it like it really happened. Did that make any sense?

Here’s what I mean. I wanted to get my car in to the shop, but needed someone to follow and pick me up as it’s outside of town. I also needed a dehumidifier, and it was on sale. Even if I had the car I couldn’t lift the big box and so needed help.

Hmmm. Needing help, asking for help, that’s a problem for me. I had a conversation with my kids in my head, where I said I needed help and they said they were too busy. That was a month ago, and the car was still whining and the air was still humid. And whose fault was that? Entirely mine, for sure,100%, no quibbling, no denial.

But I did learn from our conversation. Yesterday I spoke to my son. “My car needs to go to the shop and I need a dehumidifier, which happens to be on sale, again, and I need help”. I made a plan and suggested, as his wife works in town, that she follow me to the shop and drive me back. Then, as he needed to pick up the kids and feed the dogs, he could meet us at the store.

I turned it into a celebration of the first day of school and we went out for dinner, then I got my dehumidifier hooked up and running. It was a win/win.

It’s entirely my issue that I didn’t get this done a month ago, because I assumed someone else's response, and yes, I know that to assume makes an ass-of-you- and-me, an old saying that still works.

Our conversation last week inspired me to do better, and look at what a success it was. And they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. 

No comments: