Sunday, September 14, 2014

Graduate Course in Failure to Communicate

Communication was easy once. Besides what was there to talk about? You walked up to another person and either threw down your club or threw it at their head. But as times went by it got a bit more complicated.

"Honey, I told you to fix the stairs."


"So you going to do it?"

"Not inclined to."

And so with the introduction of the mother-in-law was born the third party negotiator. I did not say necessarily independent. Everyone has a dog in the hunt.

King Arthur introduced the concept of the shape of the table. Have you ever followed one of those openings to peace or truce negotiations? Weeks can be spent on the shape of the table. You could argue they are not fighting during that time if the third party made a truce part of the prelude to the shape of the table. There are not that many shapes. Could we just universally decide on round and go from there?

Which brings us to language. Sometimes this is why the war began. And then there is alliances, and treaties, and precedent. And who speaks for whom and in what order. Then how. With technical developments people are not necessarily in the same room. (Skip shape of table discussion.)

I am currently involved in two problematic conversations. One is between my new BluRay and all my other techno gadgets. And then there is between my neighbor on her way to 6 months in Florida and myself.

I think with the advice of a friend I am well on my way to solving the first one: First you pick the dominant device. The newest usually has the edge. But you can get in a problem if in addition to a Smart WiFi BluRay you have a Smart TV, computer, and a Smart Phone, etc. Note: the dumb router can take the upper hand right quick. And in the case of my neighbor's entertainment system the Dish Hopper wins every time. We still cannot have a movie night at her house.

But she left for Florida already anyway. And I am in charge of the dogs and the house. Well, I think I am. A nephew popped in for a few days then popped out but may pop back in if other relatives get a seat at the table. Note who gets to have a vote is a big thing at negotiations. Power goes to the first person to leave the table oddly.

The big problem is we have not figured out the method of communication either. I tried to have this discussion when she was in the room (see previous note about power going to who first leaves). She is a text maniac. I do text. Short text. And usually when avoiding a conversation: I LEFT - I do not do caps or punctuation and seldom more than four short (3 to 4 letters) words. She does TOMES with no paragraphs and no punctuation. I told her that I would not communicate with her via text. Phone call or e-mail only. And that is partly because my toss phone does not scroll well, and while cataract surgery made it possible to see the little text on the screen it still means digging out the readers. But the biggest reason is I do not get reception until I leave my valley.

She knows this. She texts Florida back and forth but before she left I could not text between her house and mine. Sometimes I would get what she considered an emergency text two days later when I left my house to go buy groceries. Once a whole week. Could not understand why she was angry with me. Hard to respond to something you did not receive.

And then of course there is language. As mad as she is about texting she doesn't event know what BTW means . . . er btw since we both cannot do caps. I am not spelling out by the way. So we can (if I am out of the valley where I can receive text from her) have a furious text fight over the meaning of btw. I always leave that room first.

And then with texting you have not a clue about who else is in the room i.e. conversation. I have gotten in trouble with texting two different people and forgetting which one I am replying too. Especially difficult when the person's name is not entered into your contact list with their phone number. But my texting maniac BFF (btw I have my doubts at times like these about the last f) does not have anybody's name in her contact list. I kept getting the weirdest replies back from her. She is good at skipping subjects (Agendas are important in any negotiation) even mana y mana). I would go back through her last text to see if I has scrolled through all of it. That can be problematic. I kept trying to delve into my memory as to what could be the subject when I at last did the BGD - Battery Going Dead - escape which she of course did not understand. And texted me back. I turned off the phone. Some times I think dropping it in my hot coffee mug would be good.

Last text I sent was email (I do not know the hyphen or the ? mark). I have sent her an e-mail which she could respond to on her Chrome tablet. She refuses to FaceBook. I refuse to text. We either agree on telephone or e-mail as the means of communication or the conversation is over till she returns. There is always the possibility there is nothing really to talk about.

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