If you are a living, breathing person, you have probably noticed that people communicate in different ways. Men and women definitely use contradicting methods of communication. Parents and children often have huge misunderstandings.
How do you communicate? Are you direct and always say what you mean? Do you drop hints? Do you use subtext or innuendo? Maybe you are shy and never get past the small talk. Whatever your communication style is, please remember that there are as many ways to communicate as there are people in the world.
My son uses movie quotes to help him connect with people. He also has to start a sentence over if he missed a detail or mispronounced a word. He is extremely opinionated about his interests. My daughter never asks for things directly while my best friend and my sister will tell you matter-of-factly if you are being a jerk.
I tend to be chatty but with an art for diplomacy. I also have been known to use American Sign Language as I talk (which irritates my sister because she can either watch OR listen. She can’t do both).
With all these different ways to communicate, how do we ever get anything done? Well, from my corner of the world, I’ve observed the following:
*We group ourselves according to our interests. This ensures that we’re speaking the same language. We find people who speak Geek, who speak book, who speak tech. We find those who speak dance, music, art, or whatever our interests might be.
*We gravitate toward people who have similar communication styles to our own. Think of it like dialects – a slightly different pronunciation but for the most part we understand each other.
*We tend to get annoyed with communication styles that are too different from our own because we don’t understand what is expected of us. For example, did you want an answer or a fix to the problem? Am I supposed to just listen? Should I take action? When we don’t know what we are supposed to do we get frustrated and scared, and as Yoda says, “Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.”
So, how do we avoid the dark side? How do we improve communication between the genders, generations, and genres? We listen. We ask questions. We learn about other people and other styles out there. It’s not much different from learning a foreign language. It will take practice and time and patience, but it can be done.