I was raised in a somewhat loud, somewhat opinionated, somewhat verbose family.  With an Irish heritage we blamed it on the Irish ‘gift of gab’.  My mother was loud, funny and quick to throw a barb if she saw something pretentious.  My father was argumentative and assertive in his voice and style while still being a charmer.

I married into a family in 1979 that was the exact opposite. They were instilled with a quiet and respectful way of talking to each other. Calm, cool, minimal in outward expression.  They believed in saying nice things, well mannered things and not raising your voice.  

Can you guess where this is going?  My way of communicating, which I had always thought was pretty good, turned out to be so strong and aggressive compared to what my wife was used to, that most anything I said with any outward expression was taken as having much more meaning than I meant it to.  She heard anger where I thought I was expressing passion. She heard insistence where I thought I was expressing enthusiasm.

In the meanwhile, my wife’s method of communicating, which I am sure she thought was pretty good, turned out to be so quiet, deferential and subtle that sometimes I didn’t even know that she had communicated at all.  The passion she felt came out in such a way that it was easy for me to either not hear it, or dismiss it as not being all that important.

As you can imagine it took a long time before we clued into what the other person was really trying to express.  We weren’t ever completely understanding about that and it was an underlying issue among larger issues that led to our divorce in 2000, after 20 years of marriage.

The reason I tell this story is to give you insight and an admonition.  The insight might seem obvious to some, but we all have blind spots.  Remind yourself that each individual hears uniquely, both sounds and meaning behind the sounds.  The admonition follows from that.  Do not go into any relationship, casual or serious, with the assumption that your way of communicating is the best way.  You might have a good way, but chances are so does the other person.  You might have blind spots about how you talk, the words you use, the manner in which you deliver them, that others see and don’t necessarily appreciate or understand.  

Evaluating yourself to become better includes evaluating your words and their delivery.

Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish playwright.  Just imagine, he was old enough to be aware during the American civil war (1861-1865) and lived to see WWII being fought and resolved (1939-1945).  That is an amazing span of life.

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