Communication is Critical
I used to think I had a solid grasp on the meaning of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ communication, but I’ve recently reached a new depth in the ocean of communication that blew my mind.
When I thought of healthy communication between two individuals, I’d think “share your thoughts, express your emotions, honesty is key…” I’d describe ‘bad’ forms of communication along the lines of “bottled feelings and dishonesty”. I wasn’t completely wrong (what woman is?). I was peering out over the ocean using binoculars when I could’ve used the gift of my own eyesight instead, opening up my peripheral vision to the obvious.
Knowledge is Needed
In any attempt to understand all things complicated, the mind cannot remain closed.
In one of my business communication courses, Professor Jones informed me of the number one reason marriages fail: lack of communication (dun, dun, dun). But it’s not what you think—the people involved in the study she explained didn’t simply grow bored and stop talking. It’s not bottled feelings and dishonesty; in fact, she explained it’s nearly the opposite.
Don’t be an Ass
Professor Jones reminded me of my 3rd grade teacher who taught me “when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me“. Get it? Ass+u+me=assume. HA! Not only was this an incredible spelling technique, and probably inappropriate for an 8 year old, but also a major lifelong lesson. Professor Jones explained our biggest fault in marriages directly follows the always fun “get to know you” stage. After learning about one another, we believe we know everything and the enthusiasm to learn more diminishes.
For example: a man who is in a fresh relationship heads to the store to prepare for movie night. He would definitely call his girlfriend (ah, good ol’ communication) and pick her brain for snack, drink and movie ideas. On the contrary, a man who has been seeing someone for years would assume to know exactly what his woman wants—rocky road, root beer, any movie featuring Tom Cruise and skip the courtesy call all together (lack of communication). NBD, right?
Once we feel we know someone, we go on a wild assuming extravaganza. We train our brains to believe we don’t need to take the time to ask because we already know. Or we think we know… “He won’t like those”, “I know how she’ll react to that”, and “he won’t be up for anything like that”. We assume. We stop asking questions, we stop talking to one another. We stop learning and growing together. All from something that seems so harmless–skipping the courtesy calls.
Despite popular belief, people do change. Sometimes people make decisions on impulse from strong emotion, and other times they may wait to react to think things through a little more. Because of this and so many more reasons, it’s not safe to use one or two past answers or reactions to determine all future ones. Don’t make an ass out of you and me–in fact, don’t make an ass out of anyone. STOP assuming.
I was sitting in class (happily unmarried) and thought to myself “wow, I don’t think that’s limited to marriage at all”–and boom. Epiphany. Being a single mom and refusing to dispose of good information, I tested this ‘assumption is poison’ theory outside of a marriage relationship and into one I could relate to.
When did you stop loving pizza?!
I packed my day bag, grabbed my camelback and dragged my son onto the trails outside of the city.
I’m not an ass and it was time to prove it. I thought, this will be a breeze; I know my son–I created him, after all. I knew all of his favorites, assuming they hadn’t changed (what an ass).
Here’s a summary of our conversation:
Thoughts in my head: his favorite food is definitely pizza—cheese and pepperoni, to be exact…just like mommy.
Me: Matthew, what’s your favorite food?
Me: WHAT?! Since when?
Matthew: I don’t know, a long time, mom.
In my head: what the hell. Ok, his favorite animal is a lion for sure…just like mommy.
Me: Matthew, what’s your favorite animal?
Matthew: The cheetah–they’re super-fast, mom.
Me: WHAT?!?! You loved lions?!
Matthew (exhaling in irritation): Mom, that was when I was a baby.
In my head: worst. mom. ever.
This continued for 3 long, hot, what in the hell miles. Out of about 20, only one favorite remained unchanged–favorite hobbies: hiking and painting with mommy. I felt awful. How could I not know my only child’s favorites? I’ll tell you how. I talked to him once upon a time, then stored that info in the “forever and ever because no one ever changes anything about themselves” impractical cabinet in my brain and locked it.
I realize now he initially developed his favorites based on what I liked. Then, as he grew, experienced and become exposed to more in life, he discovered what he liked. He experiences something new on a regular basis. He’s growing, and I’m happy our communication grants me the front seat along his journey.
Worry When Things STOP Changing
Sometimes we grow so comfortable with someone we may unconsciously pick up habits, likes and dislikes that are in no way original (like my son did). Once you separate from that person or experience things on your own, you’ll realize you only did certain things because they wanted to. This is a fascinating topic on it’s own (which I’ll soon write about). So it’s really never safe to assume people don’t change. To flourish in this life, change is necessary.
I made a vow to never assume I know what those in my life think, feel or believe. It’s beautiful to express concern; they’ll appreciate it. Ask them how they feel. Ask them what makes them laugh so hard they cry. Ask their thoughts on serious topics like politics, religion or more simple ones like what flavor of fro-yo they want on the way home. Never assume you know, because in reality, you don’t. You may receive the same answers for years—but you’ll be happy when your side-by-side the day their favorite food suddenly becomes spaghetti. It feels good to really know someone you love, and even better when someone you love really knows you.
People change, and if you don’t make an effort to grow with those you love, you may lose a relationship.
Don’t assume, don’t be an ass. Talk to each other, grow together and love forever.
Some beautiful relationships for inspiration… ❤