The other night we got in a big discussion about communication-- being direct with something you want vs trying to elicit something you want in an indirect way. It started like this:
Tristan, sitting on the couch: Are you almost done packing babe? Come sit with me.
Me, in the bedroom: Okay, I'm finishing up now. I have to take the dog down still though.
Okay? Why not, "I'll take her babe," like he usually does? Of course my apparent change of attitude made him question what was wrong, and after I told him I wanted him to offer taking her down since he was already finished packing, he tells me it's not fair to say to say one thing and expect it to illicit a completely different response. I'm sure that's true. So we talked about why I like to say one thing in hopes of having him respond a certain way (kinda like that old dictum that women like men to simply know what they're thinking), and how he likes me to just tell him what I want so he can fulfill it (which he always gladly does, may I add)...
Our discussion ended up really being about how our different environments have led us to communicate in different ways. I always thought this difference in directness was a gender issue, but Trist has been able to go even further with his classification. He's observed that many west coasters he's met like to pad their words and cover them with sugar all over the place. We either dance around something we directly want, say things we don't mean in order to be polite, or carry on in conversation just to fill the empty spaces. Whereas most east coasters are very blunt, direct, to the point, and only say what they mean. Not that one is necessarily more RIGHT than the other-- obviously those styles appeal to certain personalities more than others-- and these of course are generalizations not applicable to every person, but for the most part, I think he hit it on the nose. It's sort of unfortunate to see such extreme differences though. I mean, sometimes I like those polite [albeit maybe sometimes a bit inauthentic] niceties. Yet I can see how much more communicatively productive being obvious with your words can be [albeit the times it may create hurt feelings]. It was interesting to have those differences made light though. For me, the west coast female, I wanted him to offer without me asking, so I said I'd do something when I really wanted HIM to do it (kinda like most woman on dates do with the check), and yet for him, the east coast male, he wanted to get a clear directive so he can "fix it"; complete it, and feel like he's accomplished something and met my need.
So what now? Although I still stand by that neither is particularly *right*, and sometimes one way works better with someone than another, I do think that for a married relationship, being clear and direct is the better approach. It lessens the chance of miscommunication and increases lucidness. Doesn't mean you have to be harsh or anything; your voice can still be gentle, but you don't have to be so allusive. Thoughts?