Did Mrs. Gutenberg ever say “you just don’t understand?”

I wrote a bit more about communicating here. On a more personal note, whenever I think of this subject, I think of You Just Don’t Understand: Men and Women in Conversation by Deborah Tannen. I read this book toward the end of my marriage, and I found it insightful. Tannen doesn’t judge communication styles. She discusses how they are different and how differences lead to misunderstanding. Sadly, my husband refused to read it when I asked him, although I doubt it would have changed the outcome. Some time after we’d divorced he did borrow the book from a friend who’d borrowed it from me. He commented to her that, yes, indeed, it was very interesting and noted that the author wasn’t judgmental.

I offer this not to gloat but because just my asking him to read it and his refusing was itself a conversation straight out of the book. I won’t try to duplicate Tannen’s thesis, but, briefly, I was asking a favor, and my husband heard a command. Communication goes haywire when one person assumes the another understands meaning in one way and fails to credit that they may not.  People fail to understand for all sorts of reasons. They can be bored, hungry, or just a jerk. Or they may have a different set of assumptions about communication rules. Or they can understand but not agree. (And doesn’t that sting!)

Anyway, communication was frustrating there at the end of my marriage. For both of us. I didn’t know how frustrated I was until one day driving in rush hour traffic. When a car suddenly changed into my lane, I screamed at the top of my lungs “All you had to do was ASK! Would it have killed you to COMMUNICATE?” It probably wouldn’t really help if humans came with turn signals, would it?


1 Comment »

  1. Steve said

    There’s a saying ..forget who..

    “Two monologues do not make a dialogue.”

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