Friday, May 11, 2012

Communication, chime in! a guest post by Gina.

Today, my friend Gina, who normally blogs over at Namaste By Day is here to chat about an interesting subject regarding communication, mainly between her husband & her, and potential gender differences. Weigh in? :) Thanks, Gina!

After we met through blogging, Katie and I bonded over many things, one of which is the fact that we both worked in an elementary school. Although her former job as art teacher has always been my dream job, I only get to visit art class a few times a week as a speech-language pathologist. As an SLP, as we are often called, not only do I "fix" lisps and teach kids how to answer wh-questions (among other things), I also teach my students with social language deficiencies how to carry on a conversation. I target how to start a conversation, end a conversation, stay on topic, and be an active listener. I often see progress in them, which, best-case scenario, leads to my students forming friendships for the first time. It's my favorite part of my job.

However, it occurred to me this weekend that I may be a little too engaged as a listener. My husband started a conversation about paint colors for our soon-to-be new home, and I excitedly piped up, "Oooh, yeah, that wall with the bay windows..." Exasperated, my husband sighed, "You always interrupt me!" 

Huh. I personally don't think that's interrupting. I'm showing him I'm interested by jumping in with a point of my own. I'm talking about what he's talking about and I always give him "the floor" again quickly.

However, my husband, who readily admits he relates quite well to the Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper, insisted that I was being very rude. I asked if he expected me to simply sit and listen to him and forego my chance as an active participant in the conversation. 

He answered, "You'll get a chance to talk, as soon as I finish what I'm talking about."  He wasn't being rude, or controlling, just matter-of-fact about his beliefs in how a conversation should progress. 

 I share a room with another female SLP, and she and I have conversational ping-pong matches all day long. We pepper each others' stories with questions, comments, or even short blurbs of our own. We both admit that we aren't the most....ahem...focused...people in the world, and have been known to actually get distracted by shiny objects. Literally.  It's not unusual for one of us to say, 6 hours after a story was started, "Hey, you never finished telling me about your date night last night." Listening silently is not the norm for us. I think I'm like that with most of my friends, at least the female ones. 

And my husband? He does listen silently to me. Sometimes, I'll say, "Are you even listening?" He'll either guiltily answer, "No," or repeat, verbatim, the story I had just been recounting. 

I'm married to a man, who outside of our faith and other basic values, is my polar opposite. Talking to people wears him out; it energizes me. He has a place for everything and everything is in it's place; I'm asking him to help me find my keys on an everyday basis. It was eye-opening to me that his needs in a conversation are far different than mine. 

Clearly, I overanalyze communication. It's what I do for a living. But now I am curious as to if this is a female vs. male thing; an extrovert vs. introvert thing; or an Attention Deficit Disorder vs Anal Type A thing. Hook up this guest poster with some opinions! 

For now, I'll practice biting my tongue during his monologues, er, conversations. 



  1. Well I am a (more) introverted person who is Type A and I do this to my husband all the time so I think it's a male/female thing maybe? My husband is very much the silent listener, I even laughed when you talked about your "are you even listening?" conversation because the.same.thing happens to us all.the.time. I'm interested to see the other answers!

  2. My husband and I go through this so much. I have always thought its a male/female thing. We also have the "are you listening" conversation. :)

  3. I'm the same way when talking to my B.

    He gets upset when I 'interrupt' him but like you I thought I was just actively participating in a conversation. I'm not sure what kind it is but I'm interested to see what other people think.

  4. Adam and I aren't talkers. In a public situation, we just sit back and take it all in. So when we are alone? *Crickets* I asked him what are we going to do in Costa Rica after day 2, when we have already talked about everything we need to?

  5. I honestly believe that it is a male vs female thing. I too, like to talk and I will occasionally ask if he is listening to me. He does the same thing that you just mentioned, to a tee! But I listen to him & when I pipe into the conversation, he does feel that I am interrupting me. It drives me bananas. I work in a field where communication is key, but not sure if that would be the issue.

    He definitely has a different style. When I talk to him about something I know that I want confirmation on, it will take him a couple of minutes after I finish for him to gather his thoughts. By then, I have said to him, did you hear me? He casually says, yes, I am just gathering what I want to say back so it makes sense to you. As if I don't comprehend his language. Blech.

  6. Communication is definitely the!most!fun! part of marriage, isn't it? NOT!! 6 years in and hubby and I still haven't figured it out. We sound quite a lot like you and B. He is the silent listener ... to the point where I often interject something like "alright, well I guess I'll just tell you later" to which he usually responds, "I'm listening" ... oh bliss. Great post, as always, G!

  7. Me and my friends talk the exact same way. If there's more than two of us, we start talking over each other and everyone's fine with it. I have a really hard time not interrupting when people are talking. I don't mean to be rude though :p

  8. My husband and I aren't quite as drastic as you two, but we're similar. When I tell him something I expect an "Ok." as knowledge that he heard/understood me, but he doesn't feel it's necessary. I repeat myself often and he often says "I heard you the first time." You'd think we'd learn.

  9. Sounds a lot like me and my husband- I think it might be a woman vs man thing for the most part... My friends and I interrupt/change subjects 50 times in the span of an hour long conversation. The husband is a lot more patient and in-excitable with his opinions ;)

  10. the way you and your husband communicates sounds really similar to me and my husband, Matt. When I explain conversations I've had with Matt to others and I always feel like I depict him as such a jerk, but like you said its just a factual explanation on his part. I always cut in on him too and he gets impatient with me and wants me let him finish completely :)I think marriage is such an amazing thing. How I can love and be loved by someone SO completely opposite of myself blows my mind.

  11. I never thought about it that way. It makes sense though, C gets so upset when I "interrupt" him. Psh. I'm just making his story better. I don't tell him that though, from now I'll tell him I'm being an active participant in the conversation.

    My girlfriends and I? C wouldn't be able to keep up with our conversations. We're like ping pong balls.

  12. My husband is irritated by this exact same trait. I, on the other hand, don't know how to be silent in conversation. It definitely causes irritation sometimes.

    Of course, his "silent" side of conversation, 9 times out of 10 means he's not actually paying attention to me, which is also irritating, so...