Just A Conversation

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Have you ever had a relationship—be it friendship, work relationship, romantic relationship, familiar relationship…whatever the case may be—where you feel as if you are speaking up, speaking clearly, being understood by the other party—and then they open their mouth and you wonder what planet you are on because the other person is so far away from being on the same page as you are you might as well be in outer space?

You: I had a lovely time. I really enjoyed myself. Let’s do this again.
Them: You were so miserable. You never even left the hotel room. We’re never doing this again.

You: The way to fix this problem, as seen in this example right here, is XYZ.
Them: There is no way we are ever going to come up with a solution to this problem.

And so on and so on.

I am sure we can all sit here for the rest of the week and toss some similar type of discussion into the ring.

Trying to have a conversation with someone who can’t hear you, can’t understand you, whatever – and yes, in some cases saying they won’t hear you and won’t understand you can be very valid, for whatever reason…it gets really old.

Sometimes there is no way around that person. That person is your boss, your business partner, your room-mate, your spouse, your child, your parent, your best friend….whoever it may be. What do you do?

In a work environment, you can document everything. You can go to their boss. You can go to HR when it gets too extreme. You can find another job.

But – what if this is your parent—your child—your room-mate—your spouse? What if you are committed to staying in touch with that person? What do you do then?

I really do not have **the perfect solution** that will magically fix every problem we have with every person. Some days, I swear, if I had such a solution, I would bottle it and sell it for $1 a bottle…and nothing more…can you imagine…

Anyway…

What do you do?

When you have tried to talk to this person, about anything, and they never seem to hear you—they never seem to get your point—they always turn it around, turn it into something else—whether they turn you into the bad guy or not…what do you do—to save your own sanity?

The first thing that I did was – change the way I was speaking to the other person.

Was I using words that were too big? Was I not being specific enough? Was I providing too much detail? Not enough detail? I simplified the way I spoke to this person. I worked hard to be as succinct and as clear as I could be at all times.

I finally began to minimize the conversations that I had with the person.

That one factor can be very difficult, especially if this is a friend or a family member, but it was the only way I could come up with to stop arguments, to stop feeling horrible about being unheard and dismissed and the only way to stay sane.

I don’t care if this is the “ideal” solution, because this is the solution that works for me.

It is not a perfect solution. It does leave a lot to be desired. But what I desire is my own stuff. I want to have a decent fulfillment for both sides conversation…but the other party has made that impossible over the years. So the wanting it is all on me. That is my stuff to deal with there.

Being frustrated about not being heard, no matter the situation, is again, my expectations and my own stuff. I have to find a way to handle it that is best for me. And still be as gentle and compassionate as possible to all parties involved.

What alternatives have I chosen to utilize, keeping in mind this is outside of the work environment?

I journal, a lot. I write things out. I draw things out. I paint things out. I collage over lots of writing that I do. I burn my writing, a lot. I write it down, dig it out, tear it up and let it go. Over and over and over again, until I find my own equanimity.

Before we moved into this house, I had Yoga to turn to…I had long hot baths by candlelight…I had a peaceful back porch to sit on and watch things grow, or flit by, or hop by…watch children and dogs play.

I am at least slowly returning to my knitting…but it is hard to knit aggressive energies out these days. I used to be good at it…I could focus on my knitting, be in a conversation, and let my fingers just fly…but I am not so coordinated at the moment.

What do you do in situations where you are not heard by someone else?

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6 thoughts on “Just A Conversation

  1. Thanks for posting this. My mom is a very good example of what you’re describing here. Most of the time, I just wouldn’t tell her anything. Because I lived over 4 hours away, that wasn’t difficult to do. But for those things that I had tell her, I’d have to deal with her responses.

    The first time I told her I was getting a divorce (via long-distance phone call), the first words out of her mouth were, “Oh no! How could you do this to me?” Really??? The discussion that followed wasn’t pretty.

    The second (and last) time I had to tell her I was getting a divorce, I anticipated her response. Figuring this would be all about her (although clearly it was NOT), I told her: “Mom, I’m going to tell you something that you’re not going to want to hear. But, before you open your mouth and say anything. Stop. Stop and think before you say something. This is not about you. This is about me. And what I need to hear from you is, Cindy, I love you and I want you to be happy.” She haltingly agreed.

    So I told her. And there was a noticeable pause. She actually said, “Cindy, I love you and I want you to be happy.” But I knew she didn’t quite “mean” it yet. I didn’t care. I was just happy she didn’t make it all about her. And then she asked me pretty decent questions about what led up to the decision to get divorced. It was almost a “normal” emotionally mature adult conversation. I had to teach her that my communicating to her included MY feelings and how I wanted her to respond–what I needed from her to feel her support and love rather than hurt and rejected. She had no idea that it wasn’t all about her.

    Granted, it wasn’t perfect. And certainly, this wouldn’t necessarily work for anyone else, but my approach worked in this instance because it occurred to me that my mom was simply narcissistic. Not judging. That’s just how she is on everything. That’s okay as long as I understand she’s that way and I don’t let my feelings get hurt by the random things that she blurts out. No filter. What also helps is to share the weird comments she makes with my friends. When they react the same way I do, I know that my feelings have been validated–that the odd gut feeling I got when she made her truly inappropriate comment was right. So, talking it out with those who care about me really helped me deal with mom’s hurtful comments in the past.

    She’s no longer hurtful to me because she’s getting a little dementia creeping in. She’s actually quite pleasant and childlike. Her assisted living folks just love her and that’s great. I look upon her like a strange animal, almost expecting her to shoot her barbs, but she’s not that way any more.

    Don’t know if this helps anyone, but I hope it does. Thanks for posting this. It allowed me to clarify my feelings about dealing with someone totally in another galaxy of thinking.

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