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.