I knew this couple who were very happy together, but unbeknownst to each other, had a little communication problem. I know this because they used to confide in me. Not huge, earth shattering secrets, but little annoying things. The biggest problem was:
He had a habit of tapping a pencil all the time when he was thinking or writing notes. He didn’t know he did it, but all the time there was a constant tap, tap, tap.
This really annoyed his wife, but she didn’t tell him. But every time he did it, if she was reading a newspaper, she would noisily turn the pages making a real song and dance out of it. She didn’t really think that he would understand that it was her way of saying, “will you please stop tapping?”. But she sort of did. Meanwhile, he was getting really annoyed that she was incapable of reading a newspaper without making an unholy row.
Every so often working with clients, the issue of communication comes up. People complain that they aren’t getting what they want. When we delve into why this is, it is often because they haven’t told anyone what they want. "But I have given them enough hints!" But that isn't always enough.
It might surprise you to know that generally people aren't psychic. Just because something is a burning issue in your mind and life, that doesn't mean that it is the same for someone else. You need to be very clear on what you want, and on whether the person can provide it. Then you can make the request. I always remember a quote by coach Michael Neill who said, "you can ask anyone for anything when you make it okay for them to say no".
Whether it is to be exhibited in a particular gallery, to collaborate with someone, or even be given a particular gift for your birthday, you have to let people know what it is that you want.
So what happened with the uncommunicative couple? I suggested that the wife ask her husband if he realised that he tapped. From there, she could explain how irritating she found it, not as blame just as an observation. What in fact happened was she asked him if he knew he tapped and he said yes, he did it because it took his mind off his tinnitus. It had never occurred to her that he was doing it for a good reason and not just as an unconscious thing. Once she knew the background, she suddenly found that it quite wasn't irritating anymore. But he never did discover why she suddenly stopped rattling her newspapers!
If this has struck a chord with you and you want to find out if coaching will support you in seeing a situation in a new way, check out how we could work together and get in touch.