In real estate the mantra is "location, location, location." In relationships the mantra is "communication, communication, communication." Communicate well and relationships blossom. Communicate poorly and even otherwise good relationships can wither.
The good news is that understanding each other's conative strengths helps us understand how we communicate. It doesn't necessarily drive what we want to talk about, it drives the way we have those discussions.
As you read this section, keep a couple things in mind. First, you won't change your partner's instinctive way of communicating, and they won't change yours. So don't try. Instead, appreciate each other's styles and take the time to communicate in ways that will work.
One more thing, we tend to think of communication as words, even though we all know the saying "actions speak louder than words." Don't forget that. Your actions communicate volumes, whether you want them to or not. That's why conation, which drives your actions, is so important to effective communication.
Kyle, you literally "show" Kathy what you mean. You use your hands, any props that are handy (even silverware and salt-shakers), and diagrams on napkins to tell a story or explain an idea. It's important for you to finish your thoughts and conversations. When you can, avoid important communication over email or text so you don't lose any of your message by having to write it all down.
Kathy, you lead conversations with background information, making sure it looks forward to future possibilities. You're also a savvy negotiator - justifying your sense of urgency and providing plenty of written evidence with convincing conversation. Be careful though, sometimes Kyle may feel like you're interrogating him.
Kyle, you communicate in a way that may be missed by Kathy. The touches or embraces you offer are meant to say a lot. Or perhaps it's the handmade gifts you make or the physical tasks you do that say "thank you" or "I'm sorry" or "I love you." Kathy, you may not realize what Kyle is trying to tell you because your instinctive approach is so different.
And the words and other less physical ways Kathy communicates might seem tiring or difficult to visualize, Kyle. Your focus on the here and now when Kathy is talking about the past or the future is another way that you may potentially miss the message.
The most important thing for the two of you to remember is that these differences aren't because you don't respect the other person - they aren't things you're doing to the other person - they are just differences. Yes, it can cause frustration, but now that you know why you're different you can minimize the frustration and miscommunication. Just refer back to this section to remind the other person why you're communicating the way you are, and to ask for patience and understanding.
You won't change your partner's instinctive way of communicating, and they won't change yours.
Kathy, you're the detail person in this relationship. When Kyle asks you, "What did you do at work today?" the response will likely be a rundown of what went on, with names and times and side stories he didn't really need (assuming he has the energy or interest in talking after a long day).
When Kathy is the one doing the asking, count on follow-up questions, more probing and maybe even recollections about how today's update compares to what happened yesterday or last week. Her questions and probing are fine when the topic is something simple like what happened at work, but they can seem like a challenge or sometimes even like distrust when the topic is emotionally charged. She really needs to know more, it isn't personal. You two should keep that in mind when you're talking about sensitive subjects.
Kyle, if you feel like your opinions or ideas are being challenged, let Kathy know, and offer a chance to clear that up - it's probably not the case. And Kathy, you might take Kyle's need for fewer details and information as a lack of interest or commitment. That probably isn't the case either. He just doesn't need as much background and specificity as you.
Communicate in ways that work with your partner's style.
Kathy, when you have an idea - or a complaint - you're likely to just blurt it out. Your communication is immediate, urgent and often includes ideas you just came up with. Kyle, you're more focused when communicating and don't bring up things that are working well or that you think have already been dealt with and agreed upon.
Let's be honest. These different approaches can be frustrating. Kathy, you need to deal with things right away but Kyle seems to put you off or not listen. Kyle, you need to know there are some things that won't be brought up again and again but Kathy seems to reopen old discussions.
What do you do? Each of you needs to take the time to step outside of yourself and appreciate what the other needs.
Kathy, don't always spring your new ideas on Kyle. Remember the important things you have both agreed on and shouldn't be subject to renegotiation - then leave those alone.
Kyle, you don't have to always shoot down Kathy's new ideas, at least not right away. You could write down your thoughts to bring up later. It might be better to just listen sometimes, rather than arguing with every idea since many of them probably weren't serious anyway.
Conation is about action, and actions are the loudest way we communicate.
The two of you don't always have to resolve every issue that comes up. In fact, Kathy, you're likely to have free flowing conversations that start in one place and end somewhere totally unexpected. Kyle, you will go with the flow most of the time, but come on, you have to admit that sometimes Kathy takes it a little too far. Kathy, keep that in mind. Yes, you need to be able to go off on tangents but not everybody is like you. Kyle will need to get some things resolved or figured out.
Kyle, if the two of you need to communicate with others in a structured, systematic way, you're usually the better one to handle it. Kathy certainly can do it, but she is more likely to either get stressed about how formal the communication is or leave some important points unaddressed, or both.
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