Initially I thought our problem is Disagreement on certain issues, but now it seems more like a Miscommunication, and Misunderstanding what she meant.
Language is a very complex thing; with one sentence itself could have a variety of meanings, if delivered through different tone, expression or channel. It gets even worst if the Communicator isn’t talking in a direct and straightforward manner, or if the Communicator isn’t very well verse in expressing his or her thoughts, or when the listened don't have the skill to pick up the hidden clues.
Take the following for example
“I want our relationship to be open and truthful, so that we can tell each other everything”
“I want to tell you everything, as I don’t want to suppress my feelings and let the negative energy built up”
“But a lot of times, I dunno how to express thoughts and feeling”
“I am not an expressive person, not used to letting people know my inner feelings”
“If I know my words word hurt you, then I wouldn’t tell”
“Maybe my expectation of truthfulness isn’t the same with yours”
Isn’t the above quite contradicting if it is said by the same person? It kinda confuses me and lead me to think, “Hmm, to be totally truthful or not? To tell or not to tell?” I haven’t quite figured this out. It seems like she would like an open and truthful relationship, as it is a good thing to have. At the same time, she is not quite ready for that, as it is not quite her character to open up and share her inner feelings. So, does she want a compromise in between? What should be told and what should be kept? If it is up to our judgment, then we might have different judgment as well. It is as if the whole conversation about Open and Truthful relationship is voided, as now we individually decide what should be open and close without mutual standard or agreement. Perhaps just the timing isn’t right, and we need more practice on this communication and self expression thingy. Perhaps the whole idea is too idealistic, as we are mere humans who are meant to be flawed.
At times, it might be difficult to get hold what she what exactly she is trying to tell me. Perhaps I should try to read between the lines or listened more tentatively or like I read from someone, use the heart instead of the ears.
Let’s have a careful look at the following
“I feel that sometimes you feel frustrated with me”
“You and I are at different level, thus you make me feel inferior”
“Having you digging on my weakness, it just don’t give me the support to learn, and it hurts more as it comes from you”
“I don’t want you to praise with if I didn’t did a good job, I’ll feel that it is a sympathy”
“I know you are trying to help me”
“I don’t mean we can’t discuss about my weakness”
“Perhaps you didn’t take care of my feelings when you talk”
Looking back, it seems like what I had been doing and saying is hurting her. For me being frustrated with her at times make her very unhappy. While we were talking about her known weaknesses, she feel offended as it’s come out from my mouth. And she claimed I didn’t support her, yet trying to help her; and I can’t speak too frankly too her as it hurts her feelings.
When I turn on my angry self, I would think, WTF! I am just a human being; I can’t feel frustrated when I need to feel frustrated izzit? And it is supposed to be my fault that you feel insecure and inferior? Now, am I not supporting you or I am helping you? Now, it is okay to talk frankly or not? Now, did I dwell into your weakness in a hurting manner or scold you? For god sake, your weaknesses are well known, everyone is talking about it, and I am just trying to help by confronting the brutal fact. What the hell you want from me? That’s the tension and frustration I had which had to be released, though it is not a very good thing, but it is the truth of what I felt for a moment (the truth isn't always pretty).
Once read a book, “Good to Great” about good corporate culture and leadership. One of thing mentioned is “Confront the Brutal Fact”. For the company to change for the better, we must find and acknowledge openly what is our weakness. Only when we are comfortable talking about our weakness, then only could we approach it in an openly matter, rather a taboo which everyone pretentious denied its existence and look elsewhere. I am not trying to dwell on her weakness in a destructive way, like saying she is stupid or useless or anything like that. I thought we can talk openly about the issue, thus find a way to work together to help us be better.
Anyway, all the effort seems like a dead end huh? Perhaps there is no need to despair, as I had some idea on what is going on after a few heat up conversation and complaints. First of all, I think I mustn’t focus too much on the logicality of her sentences, as they always contradict each other and doesn’t quite make sense to me (in fact, they confuse me most of the time). I think it is pretty simple (I think la).
I think the main issue is I get frustrated when she did or said something uncommon, and I was like huh? Then, I’ll naturally turned frustrated and give her that expression which she dislikes. Then I would probably raise my voice and say something stupid. When I noticed what my frustrated self is saying or doing, then I try to cover back by softening my voice and offering some sort of advice or explanation on what just happened. But it is all too late, damage had already been done, she is already unhappy, and anything more words from me will be treated as direct hostility. Though I didn’t actually scold her or use any harsh words, but she is offended by my frustration, or should I say, she was unhappy because I was unhappy about her.
The first time that came to my mind: I consider myself good in the sense that I didn’t scold her or use any harsh words. But showing a moment of frustration? That probably means I can’t feel frustrated anymore, doesn’t it? That put a lot on pressure and limitation on me. It kinda sounds like it is not enough to do the average good, where I must do the very best. I am still trying to figure this think out. Perhaps when I managed to control my frustration in time and she didn’t get upset, I’ll have a smirk on face thinking perhaps everything is worth the moment of joy.
I am thinking, perhaps she had been trying to tell me all these while that it is “My Frustration” which makes her unhappy. Not what I said, but how I had said it. So by analyzing the context of our conversation, everything wouldn’t make sense, and I would never find the answer. I assume I find the answer, but this might not be it. Hmm, very demoralizing …
Okay, let’s not focus on our problems, but how to make our life better. How?
- Never discuss relationship problem over the phone, email or using any instant messenger. This kind of communication channel isn’t effective for emotional discussion, as the expression and tone of voice couldn’t be delivered properly. When you need to talk, use the good old ways of face to face.
- Communication is a 2 way thing: talk and listen. The talker needs to learn to express herself by giving as much information as possible for the listener to understand her. How about the listener? He needs to listen with his ears, brain and heart, and anything else he can use. Anyway, there is no excuse of being lousy at it, practice makes perfect. Try very hard to talk, and try very hard to listen.
- When there is frustration, it needs to be let out. When there is an emotional suppression, it needs to be released. For the good or bad of things, just let it out. Keeping stuff in our heart will just poison our soul. Though sometime I knew think saying something might make her sad, I said it anyway because it is truthful, within good courtesy boundary and I need to say it out (sometimes I wonder am I stupid or what?). Why? Because I worry when I behold something within myself just to avoid a minor confrontation, I would stop talking, Couple who don’t talk won’t argue. That’s not where I plan to head, and perhaps that is also the root causes of why am I in conversation deep shit from time to time.