What Are You Hoping To Get Out Of This Conversation?

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I’m a guy. And I think guys are inherently fixers. The fairer sex, on the whole, often see “fixed” as being bonded by communication. I’m kinda this way, too, but usually only with my wife.

One of my fav live performances is “Defending the Caveman” which is a lot like the whole “Men are from Mars” concept. First time I witnessed this performance, I walked away with a generalized better understanding of women. Now, everyone is an individual, obviously, so we cannot paint with TOO wide of a brush. But still, I think there are some generalizations that seem to fit both men and women.

In my marriage, I’ve learned that sometimes my wife just needs to vent. When this happens, I’ve learned to listen to her without judgement or much input, other than just listening. She does the same thing for me. I’m kinda a venter. When she’s truly in search of an answer, she’s learned to say, “Marc, I need your help with this…” And, of course, she gets it.

But, do you know anyone who isn’t this blatant? Ever known someone who was confused or scared or in limbo who couldn’t express those feelings? Instead, they lash out or grown sullen or stonewall? Yeah, I’ve known these people, too. Heck, I’ve been that guy. It’s only come with time, trial and error and years of working on communication that I consider myself a halfway good communicator.

Okay, so mE just had lunch with one of her friends. This friend has the tendency to get all wrapped up in drama, vent, rant and rave and, in general, not always say what is truly on his/her mind. It’s a precarious minefield to navigate as to know how to conversate with this individual. mE was a little hesitant about lunch and I asked her about this possibility: “What if you say this to your friend at the beginning of lunch?: ‘I can tell that you’re under a lot of stress. I just want you to know I’m here for whatever you need. If you want me to help find solutions to your problems, just tell me. If you just need someone to vent to, I can be that person. I just need to know…what do you want my role to be in this conversation?” Marvelyne thought this was a good idea. So, she took this idea and ran with it.

When she came back from lunch, I asked how it went. She said, “I did exactly what you suggested…and my friend was able to articulate back his/her desires for the conversation.”

Ya know, I don’t always get it right. Heck, I probably get it wrong more times than right. But, I’m so, so glad this worked.

Can you use this in your life? When you have a hard time communicating with someone, can you ask the blatant question: what do you want my role to be in this conversation? I’ll make no guarantees because, after all, everyone is an individual. But, it seems like when you ask a blatantly honest question about another’s desires, you’ll most commonly get a blatantly honest response. My goal is to then help that individual by filling the role my conversational partner wants. Whatcha think? Any chance this would work for you?

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