It’s not rocket science to know that every relationship we have is based on the communication we share with the other person. So how do we manage when one person’s idea of communicating varies drastically from the other?
A common situation is when one party is passive-aggressive and the other more confrontational. The latter is ready to discuss everything that comes up between them, where the former just lets everything hang in the air — a recipe for disaster.
This is the case between a woman I know and her mother-in-law. They come from different backgrounds, and are obviously of different generations, so many issues arise between them — more so now that the woman has children of her own. She tries to deal with anything that comes up head on, but her MIL won’t have it. She feigns ignorance, or shakes her head, says nothing, and walks off.
The worst part is that the older woman then goes ahead and does exactly what the younger woman specifically asked her not to do, like feed the child sugary desserts instead of the suggested fruit. This duo would no doubt benefit from participating in Slice tv’s reality show, Outlaw Inlaws — the host of which just happens to be my mother.
Another common example of poor communication between partners is men who continually hide behind the belief that it’s not manly to express their feelings. As a result, they don’t tell their partners how hurt or distant they may be feeling in their relationship — until they’re ready to explode and a huge argument comes up over some small matter. Whereas, though the generalization doesn’t always hold true, most females are quicker to say they feel ignored or hurt by some particular behaviour.
Even on the job, one co-worker may get his kicks in the office by constant chatter and gossip, where another just likes to concentrate on the work at hand, and finds it distracting to listen to the other. You’d think they’d be able to manage in an office environment but because their desks are side by side, they have to deal with each other.
The problem lies in the fact that they genuinely have a mutual liking for each other, but have completely opposing work regimens. And each gets hurt by the other’s way, even though that’s not their intention.
So, how do you work it out? Well, the key to communication is ... communication. Take your MIL out for lunch, or go for drinks with your co-worker. Have friendly conversation that puts both of you at ease before discussing the issues at hand.
Lisi Tesher is a much travelled freelance writer who has studied art history, photography, languages and pop culture. She is also a constant and fascinated student of relationships, maintaining contact with a worldwide network.