I think it’s a good thing and bad that I don’t write as much as I used to. On one hand, sites that aren’t updated don’t get traffic. On the other, I used to have a lot of shit to process, and it helped to write about it. Now that things are constantly calming down, there’s no conflict to endlessly discuss until I come to a resolution. I am sure that I could dig up something, but it would probably be something I’ve already dissected, and now would just seem like beating a dead horse. I do have a memorable quote from that time in my life, though. The setup is that Argo accused me of not listening. I said, sometimes what you think of as a function of not listening is not understanding and I’m beating the wrong dead horse instead of the right one. I got a point well taken for that one, so I’m assuming it was a good line. But what I think of as “a good line” isn’t saying something just to say it. I mean that I think of it as containing a truth that I should remember. I do listen, deeply, but if I’m on a different elevator, I will take what I think you mean and talk a bloody essay about it, essentially traveling up a building in Baltimore before you’ve even crossed the Potomac.
So, now I tend to get awfully “therapied” about conversation without even realizing how douchy it sounds, even though it works. I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of what I think you’re saying is…. and speak more to that. It’s not like I’m trying to use my completed psychology minor to sound like I’ve got a PhD. It’s that I don’t want there to be a chasm between what both of us are trying to say to each other. Miscommunication, for me, is the root of all evil. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll never have a great, enlightening conversation with a person determined to misunderstand you. It’s easy to keep an argument alive if one person has a bias against the other and refuses to find anything positive about the other when it’s not that they can’t, they just don’t want to. For instance, missing the content and telling me I just ended that sentence with a preposition. 😛
Being on the same page takes a lot of work and dedication, because sometimes it takes more than one pass to try and explain what you really mean so that the other person understands it in their language. I liken it to being a child and having teachers that only know how to teach one way, so you just don’t get it and fail… not because you’re not smart enough to understand, but again, on a different elevator.
In relationships, no matter what kind, we all tend to ignore first family dynamics. For instance, say you grew up with a family that gets mad at each other in the moment and the other person grew up with a family that holds everything in as not to cause conflict. Getting angry at them is going to be terrifying for them and you’re going to hate it when everything you’ve done wrong for the past five weeks rains down on your head when you accidentally put a fork in the wrong drawer. In your family, when people get mad, when they calm down, it’s over. In their family, you never know when the Mento is going to drop over the Diet Coke…. so, in essence, you’re both living in fear.
It’s a conundrum to which I offer no answers, because it takes a trained professional to bring these two communication styles together. I just do the best I can, which is sometimes a success and sometimes a disaster. The hardest part is that all people are moving targets of emotion to some degree, and it’s difficult to score a double bullseye every time. If we all could, world peace would have been achieved long ago.
What I can say about conflicts, all of them, is that I want them to burn slower. To be passionate, but not to the point where I can’t hear anymore. And by “burning slower,” I don’t mean “fester.” I mean proceeding with caution as not to cause damage in either direction. Not everything has to be solved in one day, or even one conversation.
I could offer a hundred examples of all this, but you’ve heard them already if you’ve been even a casual reader over the years.
Just know that when I’m traveling up a building in Baltimore and you haven’t even crossed the Potomac, remind me that DC is still a thing, and we can meet there.