I am not deaf.

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.

lost detour signBy 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.

No Comment

zip your lipsSimply 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

two way streetWhen 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.

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  1. Can we choose a later time to talk about this when we’re both ready for the conversation?…We both do that one in my house. We have both found that works better for both of us, and are both ready with a more open mind to each others thoughts, feelings and opinions.
    Deb recently posted..For Andro: In The Darkness of the NightMy Profile

    • Sounds like a healthy way to discuss things…especially emotionally charged topics. xxx

  2. I think it is a common flaw to avoid the real issues that are presented in many differing exchanges because of the consequences of same, though I fully agree with your solutions here, however after saying that putting this into practice in some cases will be a lot harder than others depending on the individuals concerned.

    It is a much better choice to talk things through to their conclusion and thus preventing the feeling of hopelessness, not in every situation of course but on the conversations that really matter one is often left wondering if it can ever be solved.

    Thank you for adding such a fascinating view on ‘I Am Not Deaf’ as it offers an opportunity of changing how we act upon certain situations and with a bit of thought and positive direction anything and everything becomes possible 🙂

    Have a wondrously wicked day today Red 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

    • I know there are a lot of people who face the uncommunicative one with hopelessness after repeated attempts to get through. I only hope to offer some alternatives to short circuit the communication breakdowns which inevitably plague relationships of all sorts. I hope you have a great weekend planned. 🙂

  3. In communication between spouses when one won’t communicate, we have to examine why not. Are you putting the addressee in a bad position or place where there is no win… I am reminded of a Sunday strip in Pearls Before Swine. In the first few panes, Pig is led to a stake, tied to it and blindfolded. Rat is unable to console Pig and lights Pig’s last cigarette for him and states, “I’m sorry Pig, there is nothing I can do for you now.”

    In the final pane, we see Pearl holding two dresses and addressing Pig. “Which one makes me look fatter?”

    Pig is trapped – there is no good or correct answer and he is doomed no matter how he replies.

    I found it very effective to hang that strip on the fridge for about six months and if (inadvertently) placed in Pig’s position, I usually just replied that my name was not Pig. It was very effective in making communication better without painting myself as the bad guy.

    The lesson here is that communication is a two-way street. If one person clams up, it is often because
    A) they are put in a bad place no matter how they answer.
    B) they are so used to being put in a bad place they are no longer willing to risk communicating.
    C) they have given up and silence is their best friend because it is a way of striking back.
    D) they never learned good communication skills in the first place.

    If Mate or Quaint clams up, examine your question and put yourself in their shoes. Would you want to answer?

    Good follow-up post Red

    MJ Logan recently posted..Merry Go RoundMy Profile

    • Captain Kirk. I despise questions which are framed improperly. (In case you forgot my explicit coverage of both topics in the A to Z…which I know you did not 😛 ) A-D all are examples of the framer needed lessons on how to help the uncommunicative one to open up. Those are the situations where I often ask the person to ask me the question, so they can see my cards. It is a good ice breaker.

      I love the toon you describe. Very healthy way to point out the problem.

  4. I have my moments :). Distractions, projections, etc., break down all communication. I have learned not to jump on those distractions, but bring the convo back by making a statement like “That’s very interesting and I’d love to talk about it later, but we were talking about….”

    Nobody in my birth family likes to make decisions, which often puts them on me. I do that to my hubs at times too. You definately gave me something to think about. Angie
    Angela Young recently posted..The English Language: Gotta Love it 2My Profile

    • Focus is often difficult. It is hard enough in the written word, but language has a way of feeding the stream of consciousness in a way which is not nearly as easy to edit. Glad I got you thinking!

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