I am not deaf.

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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.

Fence Sitting

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.

Deflecting

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.

No Comment

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.

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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.

(c) Red Dwyer 2012
Wombania comic (c) Peter Marinacci & Wombania.com
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38 Comments

  1. My wife used to get really quiet when she was mad at me. I would have to coax it out of her what the problem was. Once she was able to express her frustration, she typically felt better.

    Now I have the problem of shutting her up …haha j/k
    Bearman recently posted..Editorial Cartoon: Colorado MemorialMy Profile

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  2. My husband and I had a really hard time communicating in the first several years of our marriage. Neither one of our parents were role models of communication either. We were both afraid of confrontation. Things are much better now but it took hard work and trust in order to get it right. It’s worth it though. 🙂
    Wendy Reid recently posted..20 Awesome QuotesMy Profile

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    • It really is worth it. I cannot imagine being afraid of confrontation, but I do know in that I am in the minority. I am hoping my children do not have the same communication issues I see their friends already have. (No, not my little ones, the big ones.) 🙂

      Reply
  3. Red, dealing at times with a mate literally tongue-tied, unable to speak at times selectively because of childhood abuse, trauma and fear- can be overcome. The “silent treatment” may be rooted, intertwined with this phenomenon.
    This may be another interesting, complicated form of incommunicado you may wish to address at some time. Interesting topic–and may be more common than believed. It takes out-of-the-box thinking to defeat. No further comment required. ~R

    Reply
    • You are right, Ray. This is far more common than one would guess at first blush. You are not the first to comment about it being rooted elsewhere. We can certainly dig it up and transplant it in healthier soil 😉

      Reply
  4. I think I’ll just stick my head in my burrow until this all goes away.
    Binky recently posted..Greatest Movie EverMy Profile

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  5. It is always better for health, mental and physical both,that one expresses oneself..communication is the key, i have had those immature phases when i used to botttle myself and would not speak to anyone but learned over the time no one gives a damn so just say it and solve the problem.
    more one tries to run away from issues longer the whole episode becomes and complicates matters.

    loved the write up Red specially the fence sitting and the wombania cartoon with it…lovely
    Soma Mukherjee recently posted..The Magnificent world of WombiesMy Profile

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  6. As someone who is single I don’t have this problem! 🙂

    Love and hugs always!

    Prenin.

    Reply
    • That is malarkey. This applies equally to friends who cannot communicate. I daresay you have neighbors who fall into this category… Be honest, Pren.

      Reply
      • Hmmm… Tony who is an alcoholic and criminal so I avoid, Doug who is a devious, manipulative, two-faced drunk and method actor…

        Oh and my God daughter and family who I see twice a year! 🙂

        Apart from that the only people I see are when I go shopping…

        Love and hugs!

        Prenin.
        prenin recently posted..Wednesday – Sunny weather at last!My Profile

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  7. This is epidemic. I think it’s because we (okay, I’ll change that to “I”) want to avoid conflict.

    “Ya Gotta Pick Your Battles” is one of my mantras., but you’re absolutely right.

    And I’m so thirlled to see the Wombanias. I just discovered them.
    Barb recently posted..How to Be Famous in Your Own MindMy Profile

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    • Wombies are great! You are right. Choosing one’s battles is not always the best things when it means harbored feelings and resentment. Others cannot change what they do to hurt you if they never know what they are doing. So very glad to see you today, Barb. <3

      Reply
  8. I often find it difficult to communicate with mate, we have different styles and rhythms in our communication needs. It drives us apart more often than either of us would like. We all to frequently find ourselves in patterns that are uncomfortable for one or both of us and this leads to either a fight or silence.

    We keep working at it but it is rough at times.
    Valentine Logar recently posted..I am Mute TodayMy Profile

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    • Some of the rough roads smooth out when you both get in the car together to navigate them. Uncomfortable becomes bearable when you travel it enough. <3

      Reply
  9. Mother was master of silent treatment. Secretly I loved it. Did not have to hear her crap. Yeah, 63 and full of childhood resentments.

    Reply
    • Ah, well. There are a lot of people who feel the way you do. I can think of about a dozen people I wish would use the silent treatment on me.

      Reply
  10. I used to ..check out.. like stare off into the distance, disengage from the conversation and have as blank a look on my face as I could possibly muster. I mostly did it because arguing was pointless, letting strong emotions show about anything would be ammunition for future ways in which to hurt me and I also learned that most of the time I was being baited,.. to react badly so that a good smack down was then …,justifiable I guess. However I found that I ended up very defensive ..overly defensive with people that just were talking to me.. not toying with me. I also kept my mouth shut most of the time to avoid attention and conflict or severely censored my comments.., to the point of going over it in my head to look for any flaws before saying it. It took someone very patient to get me to start talking again.., i just have to be very careful because I go from 0-60 in 3,2 seconds and once at 60.. I have no filter.
    As far as me causing hearing loss for mate? Well when I had one… I’d say never – I mean none of the above would cause that would it? 😉
    Much Love
    LIzzie
    Lizzie Cracked recently posted..Finding Another Angle, Mid-Afternoon Mental MomentMy Profile

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    • I have no filter at 10, so 60 is a cake walk 😉 Glad you let go now. So much better than censored. <3 Much love, Lizzie. Red.

      Reply

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