The longer I’m married the more I realize just how different we all communicate with one another. I can explain something as “clear as day” to my hunky hubby & I look up only to see the most confused look on his face. This is frustrating, to say the least.
The thing is, we each have had years upon years of learning our very own language. Although for most of us that language is English. We have all sorts of slang, nicknames, & stigma that is unique to how we were brought up.
A great example of this is biscuits. Yep, biscuits.
Growing up in my house we would have biscuits with lots of things, spaghetti, goulash, chicken, I mean you can’t really go wrong with adding biscuits to a meal in my opinion. Buuuut….we didn’t call them biscuits. We always bought the name brand biscuits, called Grands. So when I was first married, I remember making a grocery list with my Hunky Hubby & adding Grands to the list. This was something I had been saying for years! He had no clue what I was talking about.
Obviously, it was quickly remedied & didn’t start any arguments. I just found it to be a perfect example of how obvious something can seem to the person speaking it & how foreign it can seem to the person they are speaking to.
If we apply this logic to bigger topics like loneliness, grief, pain, or even anger, it’s easy to see how we can end up staring at our partner or friend with a blank stare of confusion. Lost in translation. Or even worse we find ourselves getting super offended about something that we misinterpreted.
So how do we fix this?
Here are a couple solutions to start your wheels turning:
Learn the Language | Seek first to understand THEN to be understood
When you move to a new country or even state you learn the language. You learn that people call it pop in the Midwest & just Coke in Texas. Or in some areas it’s called a buggy instead of a cart. Maybe they say ya’ll in this neck of the woods not you all.
If you want to be at home, then you need to learn the language. Even if you don’t speak it all the time you will eventually stop looking at people with a weird look every time they say something you aren’t used to, because you understand. Instead of arguing about what a cart or buggy is “supposed” to be called you just figure out that there are in fact two names [actually more] for the same object. Shocking, I know!
Seeking first to understand before trying to be understood is one of the seven habits of highly effective people for a reason! In work, friendships, family, & marriage, it is a smart move to listen first! This prevents over-reacting & can diffuse misunderstandings/offenses with lightning speed.
Talk it Out | Be vulnerable
Often times we have heavier more intense definitions for words than the people we are communicating with. In our heads the definition we have seems so obvious.
- Why would someone else have a different definition?
- Why don’t they understand why that sentence was so hurtful?
- Why were they so flippant with that phrase?
Instead of responding to someone’s intense reaction or having a heated debate about vocabulary…maybe consider this: There is a reason why these words carry more weight for some. If you validate them, instead of arguing, well you’re choosing to embrace the culture of the place you’ve decided to call home.
How do you validate someone when you think they are crazy over-reacting?
You simple care enough to understand.
You take a minute & step outside of yourself & say…I don’t know everything.
Remind yourself: I don’t know the thoughts/emotions going on inside of my spouse right now. They are responding this way for a reason, a reason I am unaware of. Their emotion isn’t toward me, it’s toward the words that I used.
Have you ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? The fiance’ is told to say something to the entire family in Greek that he believes to be something regarding hospitality. When really, he ends up proclaiming to the whole family he has three testicles. He says a phrase while believing he is saying one thing, when really he is saying something completely different.
If we could simply hear each others hearts despite the words we all spoke, the world might be an easier place for some of us to live. Alas, this isn’t the case.
Words were given to us as a tool & a gift. Refusing to learn to use them properly with one another isn’t wisdom. You don’t get to feel victorious for giving up & keeping quiet.
It is my belief that if you love someone you will try your best to understand them & speak their language. AND you will also allow them the privelage to do the same.
Allow those who love you to know how you perceive things so that they can speak your language. This is love.
Let’s choose love & communication friends. Even when it’s difficult & giving up seems so tempting…try one more time to listen well, shift your perspective & talk it out. AND then? You do it again. Persevere. Become a citizen of your relationships.
Let’s Keep Moving Forward!
The Mess in Me Honors the Mess in You
Check out my video about this topic by clicking the following link: