Have you ever realised how much upset and annoyance can stem from a simple lack of communication?
A few weeks ago I talked about stress and anxiety in: 3 Steps to Help Combat your Anxieties!. There I mentioned that arguing with Kirsty was one of the things that brought me stress, but that things aren’t as simply as just ‘deciding to stop arguing’, instead you have to find a way to combat that, to avoid having reason to argue in the first place.
Last week, I talked about Seeking Sanctuary after my housemate moving out, and, whilst trying (and failing, a little? You be the judge!) to avoid going into rant-mode, I also wanted to talk about one of the things that upset the balance most.
Both these two points stem from the same source; both of them are a lack of communication.
Kirsty often gets annoyed with me when I don’t do something she expects of me, sometimes this is me not doing as I said I would, sometimes it’s me not doing something I didn’t even know was expected of me; all of it is a problem with communication. Maybe I didn’t listen when Kirsty was explaining something, and mid-argument I realise she’s right, maybe I didn’t communicate when, or how, I was going to do something and had left Kirsty with a different expectation than myself. If, in the first instance, we’d communicated better, if we’d explained and listened, explained and listened, than we could avoid arguments around those issues.
To prove this point, there have been times we’ve had arguments that, when you get down to the bare bones of it, stem from me meaning one thing and Kirsty meaning something completely different. That leads to an argument you can’t conclude, neither of you are listening, neither of you realise the argument is futile and, by its very nature, has no end. Sometimes, though more rarely, we’ll actually be in agreement, but arguing because we’re using different language; our shared goal lost in translation. When we realise that’s our cause, simple miscommunication, we settle back down, but how long have we wasted arguing? How tense have we left an otherwise pleasant and peaceful evening?
Similarly, many of the negativity from having a housemate stemmed from a lack of communication. Whilst waiting for him to move out, it never seemed there was any progress, it lead to feeling like no effort was being made (though I’m sure it was, just behind the scenes), we had no word when he was going to be in, or out, or when his girlfriend was going to be round as well; the closest we got was being asked if it was ok, whilst she’s there behind him, how can you say no? The thing was, we never wanted to say No, we liked them both and who would deny a young couple to share each other’s company? We just wanted a heads-up, a show of respect. Then came the move out, they had the keys, they had the place… and two weeks later there was no eagerness to move, their attentions more fixed on decorating and sorting than packing and leaving. Again, whilst we so eagerly craved our own space, we would have nothing against them delaying a week, two weeks, even three… but there was no communication. We weren’t kept up to date with their plans, therefore we became annoyed and irritated when they happened around us.
We’ve spoken since on the topic, I addressed my housemate and asked a question to the effect of “Why don’t you keep me informed of things?” and his response was because he felt awkward, and because I never asked. Well, I never asked because I felt awkward… Miscommunication, lack of communication, how much easier would the past five months have been if we had just had a simple conversation? If we’d explained and listened? One of us could have extended the olive branch; one of us could have saved the mutual awkwardness.
My problem is I hate confrontation; I’m passive aggressive, I’m petty. I’d rather say “I’m fine” than explain how someone has annoyed me. Half of it is through fear of upsetting someone else, half of it is through an expectation that someone should know they’ve upset me… but that’s not how the world works. Sometimes people are utterly clueless, regardless of the (seemingly) huge hints you leave in their wake. It’s just not a productive way of conducting life.
The world needs more people that communicate, more people that actually explain what’s wrong, and more people that listen to another’s points before reacted. Explaining, listening. Explaining, listening. When we shout over everyone, when we only hear the points we make ourselves, everyone is deaf.
Kirsty and I have took that on board. We’ve started to listen to each other in full, to try and provide comfort to each other when we open up as we realise it’s sometimes difficult to do so. More importantly, we’ve begun to listen to things. When Kirsty used to say “I wish you’d washed up today”, I used to hear “Why don’t you do anything at all in the house?”, when really she meant “I wish you’d washed up today”. We’re communicating now; we’re explaining, we’re listening.