So, like the old saying goes, men are from Omicron Persei 9, women are from Omicron Persei 7. For my wife and me, that’s still true the after all these years. And in case none of that is clear, what I mean is that we’re not always communicating very effectively.
In certain ways, we are all stereotypes. For myself, I frequently have the stereotypical male single focus, meaning I can mostly only do one thing at a time. I can switch gears, I can switch tasks, but I’m far more productive if I do one thing at a time.
Especially in the morning when I first get up and I’m having breakfast. Eating can be mechanical, but whatever I’m doing at the same time isn’t.
My wife and I have been together since 1990. We’ve effectively been living together since sometime not too far into 1991. And we’ve been married since 1995. More than 23 years now, closing in on 24.
And yet, one morning this week, as I’m trying to focus on the the story I’m revising, she’s trying to carry on what to me is a widely separated conversation. It goes something like this:
One, my wife starts talking.
Two, she gets my attention, and I realize that I missed the first sentence or so of what she said.
Three, she repeats what she said.
Four, she listens to my answer, and maybe or maybe not responds.
Six, she waits long enough for me to go back to the thing I’m trying to proofread.
Seven, we repeat one through six, and so on.
You can see how this is a recipe for frustration on both sides. For her, I’m clearly not paying attention and not listening at all. For me, I’m trying to get something done and I’m being interrupted constantly.
I’m not sure who gets to the frustration level first. I do know that by the fifth or sixth cycle, when now it’s obvious that she’s been building up to something specific all the way along, I’m clenching my jaw and hoping she doesn’t follow me to do or get whatever she just asked for.
Omicron Persei 8. For anyone who doesn’t get the Futurama reference, men are from Mars, women are from Venus. I’ve never read the book and I’m unlikely to. In reality, there are no hard and fast rules for communicating person to person, regardless of who the people are. Never have been, never will be, because even though there can be major similarities, we frequently do communicate differently. I strongly suspect that’s the case regardless of the genders of the people involved in the relationship. So maybe we should take the men and women bit out of the equation and just say some of us are from Mars, some of us are from Venus, some from Jupiter, Mercury, the asteroid belt… and even Earth. And communication is hard.
But that doesn’t mean we should stop trying.
Be well, everyone.by
by Conversation is important. Meaningful conversation is important. And I don’t mean the way that men and women talk to each other or separately, because yes, evolution has provided more than one set of basic wiring and we don’t talk or communicate the same way, and yes, some of that can be divided at least partially along gender lines even as we recognize gender (like everything else) as being on a spectrum. And we can overcome evolution, but it’s hard.
What I mean is more in terms of when I’m having a conversation, I want to talk about things of consequence. I don’t care if it’s raining or if the grass is green or the carpet is still ugly today. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t bring any joint my life. I seem to be adapting the phrase “life is too short” in several ways lately, but life is too short to spend time talking about inconsequential things. Nothing gets fixed and nothing gets better by my telling you it’s a nice day and you agreeing.
I want to talk about politics and religion and philosophy and major events in the world. And I want to talk about how my kids are doing in school and how yours are and how their experiences are different and how we’re helping them to adapting to a ridiculously stressful world. I want to find things out about you to figure out where you’re coming from, where you’re going, what you think, and how we can find common ground to stand on. I want to talk about things that matter, to you, to me, everyone.
There is no subject that is or should be off-limits.
Why doesn’t our society have a proper line dividing church and state?
How do we find a way to talk about the terrorist attacks in Las Vegas or London or Baghdad or Mogadishu or the Philippines that doesn’t send either side of the relevant social arguments off on a tirade?
How that last natural disaster really knocked us all on our asses and what we can do to actually prepared for the next. Or mitigate those coming in the farther future.
How we can help our American friends get rid of the orange menace who somehow got himself elected, without breaking any laws are opening ourselves up to being sued.
Is China’s human rights record really is bad as I think it is or am I remembering things from 20 years ago and just deciding that that’s the way things always are?
Talk to me, argue with me, fight with me. But do it about things that matter.
Not all communication matters, but it all has the potential to. It all could.
But it doesn’t.
A lot of noises we make day-to-day are just that, noises. Social lubricant so our brains don’t have to work too hard and get overheated, so we can avoid thinking too hard about each other because then we’ll have to try actually understanding each other. Sure, sometimes small talk can actually purpose, when you’re feeling around the edges of something important, trying to figure out where someone stands or to approach a difficult conversation situation. But most of the time, not so much.
So, let’s discuss, argue, fight. Rationally, and with consideration for each other. Remembering that while ideas don’t deserve respect, people do.
Be well, everyone.by