Learning to Change The Way I Communicate

[This is a bit more personal journal than most blog entries.  Feel free to skip if you like.  And no, I’m probably not talking about you at any point here.]

CommunicationI mentioned the other day that I’m doing my level best to say what I mean, mean what I say, and avoid being snarky.  That is, I’m doing my best to make all the different conversations that are going on (what’s actively being said, what’s being deliberately left unsaid, body language, etc) to all be the same conversation.  Further, I try to keep my conversations to the conversation I want to have rather than the conversation that my initial emotional impulse would be.

It’s part of my overall personal-drama-reduction initiative.  Really, I’ve had enough for a few lifetimes.

First off, communicating clearly is hard.  Even as a largely clueless guy1, I started off being crap at calming my emotions.  So while I might get the words right, getting the tone to be where I wanted it to be has been difficult.

Second, I have problems getting people to believe that I’m serious.  This is almost certainly my fault.  Explicitly saying something – such as “No, it’s okay you left me a lot of work, really, I’m good with it” – is interpreted as sarcasm.  The more I say “I’m not being sarcastic, really, it’s fine,” the worse it seems to get.  I thought that – since my tone was so hard to hide- that when I wasn’t being sarcastic, that’d be obvious as well. 

And finally, there’s the people who read into everything I say.  “Oh, clueless guy.  So this is a gender thing.”   

Maybe it is the people I’m talking to, or the medium(s) I’m communicating over.  Or a combination of all of the above.

Trying to un-futz your communication style after a couple of decades is hard, necessary work.  I’m not expecting a cookie for doing it, either.  At the same time, it’s really discouraging to get negative feedback for trying to do the right thing, to be honest about your emotions, and to not hide behind sarcasm and belittling.

And then there’s the praise.  And attention.

Because I’m also noticing that reasonable requests are not getting any attention.  In multiple sectors of my life, over and over.  There’s a lot of places in my life where the only way to be heard at all is to be (at best) a squeaky wheel.  And at worst, to be some kind of threat.

That’s when the hits on the blog, the shares, the returned messages – all the things that signal “you’re important” – start going nuts.

But I’m going to do my best to ignore those too. 

Right.  Enough rambling.  Any suggestions from the peanut gallery?

1I can analyze this stuff after the fact, but realtime?  I’m useless.

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