Before I go any further, I want you to be a fly on the wall in the Cochran house, and listen to this short conversation between Patrick and me… By conversation, I mean that I talked and he stood there… I’m a little embarrassed already.
So, I was feeding Riley Grace her supper when Patrick walked in the door.
“Are you here?” (Me, confused as to why he was home early)
“…….” (Patrick, speechless as he looked around, acting as if I MUST be talking to someone else because CLEARLY he was here…)
“No, I mean, are you home?” (Me, attempting to clarify the previous question… Clearly, as a husband, he has (or should have) the superpower of MIND-READING!...But he didn’t seem to be accessing that power at the moment.)
“……..” (Patrick, still looking behind him and smiling, acting as if I HAD to be talking to someone else – I, on the other hand, KNOW that he KNOWS what I mean. Wow, now I apparently have the mind-reading superpower, too…!)
“……..” (Me, now possessing the same superpower, since I seem to know that he knows but won’t let on that he knows, I’m patiently waiting for him to ‘fess up….What I really meant was, “Are you “home” home?” Isn’t that clearer? Don’t we all know what repeating the word and emphasizing the first part means??….Oh dear)
Ok, now we’re all confused! Too much mind-reading going on, and not enough clarity!
Please tell me that I’m not the only one who has experienced this. Even in this cute 2-minute interaction, I can find some not-so-cute issues. What went wrong?
1. (Mis)Communication: I didn’t say what I meant. I thought I did, and in my head, my tone (and our previous knowledge that he wasn’t supposed to be home yet) should have helped him to understand what “Are you here?” really meant. It made sense to me, so it should make sense to him. What I should have said (and did say later on) was “Are you home/here for good, or are you going back to work?” That would have eliminated the room for miscommunication if I had said that to start with.
2. (Unfair) Expectations: I expected him to understand what I meant, even with my extremely vague questions. No one can read minds! It’s never good to assume that you can or expect that someone else can. Lots of harmful miscommunication can happen this way. If you don’t know, then ask, and if you’re not sure if someone else knows or you can see that they are interpreting something wrongly, then speak up…with gentleness!
3. Criticism: From the beginning, I was being critical of Patrick because I was assuming that he knew and was just giving me a hard time. Sometimes, this situation plays out comically, and sometimes it ends rather negatively, depending on our moods. We may think it’s funny, or we may become irritated or easily offended when the other person doesn’t “get it” immediately.
Proverbs 21:23 – “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.”
That verse may seem a little too serious for this situation, but I think it carries a lot of weight in light of our small miscommunication. Sometimes, we are too quick to speak and judge others’ motives and actions. As you ponder this short verse, I hope you’ll take time to evaluate how you communicate with your husband. Are you quick to hold unfair expectations and judgments? Are you too quick to speak? Do you expect that he should understand what you mean even if you are not very clear? Do you expect him to read your mind? Do you expect that you know every meaning behind his words, actions, and body language? What are you communicating with your words, actions, and body language?
Pray that the Lord will help you to guard your mouth and tongue in any and every conversation with your husband or with anyone! Let our speech be sweet, kind, and clear!! Miscommunication can be a nasty business. Unfair expectations can ruin a relationship. Criticism is just plain sinful. There are so many aspects that make up effective communication, and we can all safely concur that mind-reading is not one of them! J