Prompt: Describe a difficult conversation with someone. What made it so difficult? What would have made it better? What is the secret to good communication or great conversation?
One moment, we play happily on the trampoline. But don’t be deceived: there’s always calm before a storm. Suddenly Carson’s blue toddler eyes get big and he looks intently left. Then he points, “Moo.”
O dear. I sense the beginning of that familiar game Angela-tries-to-figure-out-what-Carson-wants-while-Carson-screams, a game I always lose.
I look left trying to interpret the signs.
“Want to get off. Are we all done?” I ask, moving him toward the zipped doorway of the safety net. His immediate shriek enlightens me: obviously not.
“Should we take off your shoes?” I pull off one of his tiny tennis shoes. But his reaction suggests that this was not a good idea either.
“Blanky?” I ask. “Ball? Pacie? Jump? Snack? Thomas?” I try all our usual words. But he screams and I tell him, “Carson, I don’t know what you want. You have got to help me out here.” But I know that I’m really only telling myself, because he obviously isn’t listening anymore.
We had major communication issues, Carson and I. But that was last year. We’re doing much better this year thanks to a few basic principles of good communication.
The dictionary defines communication as a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system. Most people have problems with the exchanged information. Carson and I, however, never got that far. We were stuck on the exchange because we didn’t have a common system, i.e. Carson couldn’t talk.
When I realized our game wasn’t getting us anywhere, I gave up trying to communicate. Instead ,when he started to scream, I introduced him to an entirely new setting with the hope that he would forget why he was mad. It worked…sometimes.
This year, he can talk. Now we have a system for the exchange of information. We can communicate! This novelty made a huge difference in our somewhat rocky relationship. I would even venture to say that today, we’re both rather fond of one another.