The art of communication…

What I’ve realized over the years is that each person is wired with different expectations and understanding of what effective communication means. Why this matters? Well some people are looking for more communication and some people are looking for less communication. That means those that look for more are a bit frustrated with the lack of communication or being left in the dark, while the others are feeling a bit frustrated with how over communicative someone is, getting too much information.

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What I’ve also found is that this can differ in a person by the subject.  For instance, let’s take me as an example. When it comes to mushy emotional stuff, I don’t need a lot of communication. If you tell me you love me, I believe you’ve done a full assessment internally and this is being spoken out loud because it’s moved from conceptual to fact.  Which means, I don’t need to hear it over and over again, I believed you the first time. I feel it through your actions. If the words are about superficial attributes or reassurance or reinforcement of things already said, I’m totally fine with minimal communication. Likely because my opinions don’t sway by my mood so I assume others have fixed opinions as well and don’t need constant updates on how they feel about me today.

Now let’s flip that, when it comes to tasks and actions and logistics, I want to be fully in the loop. So if I’m coordinating something with someone who believes – I’ll keep everything to myself until the task is complete then I’ll notify you – it stresses me out completely. Being left in the dark until the task is complete, with this radio silence for days or weeks while the person is supposedly working it in the background, not my cup of tea. I prefer to be aware of the logistical items – I emailed our contact, I just heard back but they ran into snags, I’m trying a different angle, etc. This allows me to recalibrate my dependencies on them real-time. Just sitting there in the dark in silence is beyond frustrating for me.  Having to ping the person every few days is super annoying. Having them get angry at me for pinging them because they’d prefer I just enjoyed the darkness is insanely annoying.

Though what I’ve come to recognize is that we’re all different people. The real fun comes in when you are flipped with the other person, whether it’s in a work setting, a friendship, a relationship, etc. So let’s take the emotional variance as an example. Most the guys I’ve dated haven’t been ‘Words of Affirmation’ guys so it’s been a non-issue, though I’ll share about the guy that was. He also happened to be the most insecure guy I dated, not sure if there’s any correlation there, but the number of times I heard, ‘why don’t you say you love me more’, ‘why aren’t you super lit up and happy when I walk through the door’, ‘why don’t you text me every morning to say hi’, etc. Not only did it totally irritate me as he was pretty much saying, please be the stereotypical girl from TV, but I found even when I put 600% more effort in, it still wasn’t enough. Why? Because my communication level around emotional stuff was so divergent from what he needed even middle ground didn’t get us there.

Let’s take the communication on logistics example. In a work setting, this seems to be mostly a non-issue as people seem to understand they need to communicate regularly when you’re on a team where everyone is dependent on each other to get stuff done. So let’s take a personal example, luckily in all my romantic relationships I’ve never encountered a variance here, though I tend to befriend a much wider MBTI array than I date, so differences comes up more frequently. It takes a vulnerability to coordinate and depend on a friend much like one does in a work setting, though without the accountability and structure that keeps things moving, meaning it’s even more vulnerable.  Which means if there’s a divergence in communication styles it can sometimes get amplified. There are the people that when you split tasks with, it’s harmonious, meaning your communication styles and action styles are similar. Then there’s the friends who have different styles, none are better, none are worse, though when they are different it becomes something to navigate. If you are completely dependent on them doing a piece of something and they feel no communication is needed until their piece is done, it can be extraordinarily difficult if you’re a task-action-oriented person, like I am. You are literally being asked to sit in utter darkness, and be at their complete mercy until they give you their final update, then you can move forward with all the other dependencies. This is the definition of hell for an INTJ.

So regardless of which style you prefer and in which situation, the big thing comes in with how to work with the variances when they occur. I think the important thing to realize is that we’re all very different. With our perspectives being completely skewed by our views on the world, our interactions, and our social circles, it’s no wonder we’re all so darn different and have such different needs and wants. Whether we respond well when asked to be more communicative in an area where we’re weaker or whether we respond with upset and defense, is all up to us. We control our actions, that’s about all we control. As with any relationship, regardless the type, if you want to be in it (or you have to be in it for work) trying to understand the other’s perspective and finding middle grounds is critical. Open and honest communication is the cornerstone to any relationship.  If it’s an area they aren’t willing to discuss or aren’t willing to budge on, you need to determine if it’s something you are willing to take the full burden on to work around or not.

Cheers,
Sara

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