Monday, March 22, 2010

Listen to me...

There are plenty of times in life when communication breaks down. Sometimes it's a lack of something necessary - like a shared experience or a common framework. At other times, one party just doesn't want to listen - maybe the story has already been told too many times, there is a history of unalterable views expressed, something else is of a more pressing concern or even that one just wants to be left alone. (bigger versions)

I suspect that anyone who has lived long enough has been in both positions many times (really wanting to be heard and really wanting not to listen). We know from experience that nothing will be gained if we speak louder to press our concerns, if we get closer - if we persist incessantly - if we corner - if we chase… the outcome is always bad and unsatisfying. If we try to leave, turn our head, close our eyes or lose ourselves in the safety of a daydream… the outcome is always bad and unsatisfying.

When neither party cares much about the other it can be ended quickly if both take aggressive motions - blustering about, raising voices and forcing a confrontation. Alternatively both parties may chose to remain leave or become quiet and pushing the problem off to the unseen future. Neither of these approaches ever solves the problem of restoring communication - nothing gets accomplished and it's always unsatisfying. Communication always requires both members to speak and to listen to the other.

It's a no win situation once it starts… a situation slipped into all too often and yet tragic for all involved.