Originally Posted by Marcus
I don't disagree with anything you said in particular, IP. I suppose my distinction would be that while I do agree that clear communication is a boon in any healthy relationship, I would add the caveat that prior to the communication being initiated, one should be certain that the message they are intending to send is the same as the one they are sending.
I wonder if that is the difficulty with communication? I sometimes wonder if the best we can do is to be clear in our own minds about the message that we want to send?
The recipient of our message won't necessarily understand it the way we intend it anyway - they will understand what we say through the filters of their own experiences.
My SO and I recently had a discussion about this which started on a car journey like this:
SO: Are you hungry?
IP: No. I ate lunch quite late because I knew we'd be travelling. Are you hungry?
SO: Yes. I could do with some food soon.
At the time, we were driving on a motorway and I knew from past discussions that my SO hates stopping at motorway service stations - I'd had lunch very late specifically so that I wouldn't need to stop and force him to go to one. I assumed that his conversation was an indication that we should stop as soon as possible after we'd gotten off the motorway and that's exactly what we did.
However, from my SO's point of view, the conversation was a direct request from him that we stop for food at one of the service stations on the motorway. He was very hungry and willing to put up with being in a service station if it meant he could eat.
When he asked me why I didn't stop, I pointed out that he hadn't actually asked me to stop. He felt very strongly that he had asked and that I should have known.
Interestingly, I know that my SO finds it hard to make direct requests of people because he doesn't like to be controlling. But I find that sort of communication incredibly controlling. Unless there is a reason not to be direct (like a language barrier), I find it preferable to know what it is that people actually want from me. I may or may not be able to or willing to do what it is that they want but I'd much rather know and I'd rather know if it is going to upset them if I don't do what they want.
My preference, of course, comes from experience. I come from a family of incredibly direct, blunt communicators so I've grown up being comfortable with people telling me what they think, what they want from me and when they are upset with me. And I've compounded that by working in I.T. where being clear and direct about everything is a necessary part of the job. Then I've spend the last 12 or so years in my job working directly with our most difficult, demanding customer - people don't like them as a customer because they tend to be very direct, sometimes rude and they get upset if they don't get what they want.
The whole communication thing is interesting for me. My SO and I are still learning and adapting to each other's preferences. Not surprisingly - we have been practicing and honing and becoming comfortable with styles that are different to each other for far longer than we have been together. So there is much more to uncover and discuss and adapt to.