After Mantra’s foray into hearing loss, we need to more fully explore the incommunicado. It is not only the ever-present, all too popular silent treatment, but also the many other forms of non-communication. If you are not familiar with the characters at M3, please meet the cast on The M3 Players.
Aside from wondering why someone would subject their derriére to splinters, we are often left incommunicado with the person sitting the fence. Whether the subject is restaurant selection or choosing retirement plans, the fence sitter is not likely to be communicative about anything except being noncommittal.
We base a large amount of our trust in others on knowing where they stand on the issues we feel are important. For instance, if Quaint believes children should be seen and not heard, chances are good you will not be engaging Quaint as a babysitter for your boisterous toddlers. In short, you would not trust Quaint to provide a loving atmosphere for your children.
But this concept runs far deeper than the superficial issues with Quaints when we talk about the trust between Mates. When Mate is a fence sitter, the foundation of the relationship may be crumbling beneath your feet. Marriage begins with vows, a contract. Failing to make decisions and being noncommittal in beliefs and actions makes upholding those vows nearly impossible.
Never stating on which side of the fence you sit is a form of non-communication.
Changing the Subject
A common ploy by those who hate to lose arguments, changing the subject is a form of non-communication. Sticky or uncomfortable subjects often lead to changing the subject. Hurtful subjects change faster than any other.
By changing the subject, we are shifting the attention from information which needs to be aired, bared or debated. This creates a lack of resolution because the conversation ceases in favor of something peripheral, ancillary or opposite. Rarely does the conversation come full circle to return to the abandoned topic.
Never finishing the conversation is a form of non-communication.
During argument, especially when one is at fault, deflecting the blame to the other’s actions or inaction is an effective strategy, but it comes with a price. Deflection rarely assigns any responsibility to the deflector. Teens and some adult children use this technique to blame parents for bad behavior.
At the conclusion of the discussion, debate or argument, the one originally not at fault still holds the same feelings from the beginning, since the deflector failed to take responsibility. The deflector added the emotion or guilt from the history of the deflection. In other words: Insult to injury.
Never taking responsibility for your actions is a form of non-communication.
Never getting the answer you seek is a form of non-communication.
Simply refusing to state an opinion is a way we fool ourselves into believing we are avoiding conflict. While occasionally it is an exercise of When you do not have anything nice to say, say nothing, more often it is a white flag when we know our opinions will meet with heavy objection.
Ironically, this instance of agreeing to disagree is not a favorable one. The Mate seeking the opinion may be of polar beliefs, but is often looking for a plausible reason to jump ship. While not being direct and forthcoming with the reason the opinion is sought, we fail to recognize the plea.
Frequently, no comment is the silent treatment. This is always about hurt feelings. Much like asking someone with a compound fracture for blood, this person is not in a position to answer any questions.
Never stating your reasons for asking is a form of non-communication.
Never stating your opinion when asked is a form of non-communication.
Two Way Street
When we fail to communicate, we are not even doing lip service to our relationships. This is not merely relegated to the world of marriage. It is just indicative of a broken relationship between Quaints or Parent and Child. While Child has less culpability in the breakdown of communication on the grounds of immaturity, between adults there is not much room for being excused.
Turn the Corner
When you are attempting to talk to someone who is being uncommunicative, persistence is a necessity.
- Ask your question another way.
- Try the conversation a little later, not the next time you argue.
- Ask Quaint/Mate/Parent/Child to ask you the same question
- Ask for an alternative answer.
When no comment is the answer, explain why you want to know. Mate may be more than willing to meet you half way if you are willing to come away from your stance.
If deflection is the issue, try taking a powder and starting again in a short while. This is a good place for never letting the sun set on the conversation.
When the subject wanders away, ask Mate to ask you the question. By shifting the investigator’s spotlight onto yourself, you show a willingness to be responsible, which often inspires enough trust for Mate to be responsible.
In the case of splinters, ask why both sides of the fence are objectionable. Instead of focusing on the right of your side versus the wrong of the other side, find out if there is some lawn available across town. Sometimes, the third option is better than the two split by the fence.
I am not deaf.
The hearing loss of non-communication is one which can be overcome without a hearing aid or cochlear implants. Before heading into a conversation with someone you know in advance is going to be non-communicative, ask why. Listen to what is said, and not just for the things you want to hear. You may well discover something just as or more important than what you wanted to discuss.
Which hearing loss do you suffer the most? Have you caused hearing loss for your Mate? Are there other forms of incommunicado?
We will cover ignoring and other non-communication in another post.