My eldest son recently married a wonderful young woman. While we were chatting one day she mentioned something about my son not always picking up subtle hints. I suggested giving up on the hints and taking a more direct approach, state exactly what she would like him to do. They are discovering so much about each other and realizing they each have slightly different ways of communicating. They’re working at figuring it out; I think they’ll be fine. That’s both the mom in me and the life coach speaking.

Since that little chat, I have given this a lot of thought. It’s occurred to me that a lot of aggravation and disappointment is caused by this simple type of misunderstanding. If she keeps dropping hints and he never acts on them, her feelings may be hurt and then she could very likely become angry because she thinks that he is simply being inconsiderate. From his point of view, he thinks all is well. After all, no one has informed him of anything different. Oh, maybe she’s feeling a bit grumpy, but he asked if anything was bothering her and she said no, so it must be that she needs a nap. Ugh… can you feeeeeeeel the frustration? 

Time for a bit of life coaching here. It’s really pretty basic and so simple that you already know what I’m going to say, I’m sure of it.

They need to have a little talk about communication styles. It needs to be out loud, in actual words, face to face and preferably with smiles on their faces. She probably needs to bite the bullet and simply be more direct with him. For example, instead of piling all of his dirty socks on top of his favorite baseball cap, thinking this will convince him to put them in the clothes hamper, she probably needs to ask him to put them in the hamper. For his part, he needs to make an actual effort to communicate clearly as well and also when he is really not clear about what are probably hints ask! Again with a smile. Think of how much aggravation will be avoided.

I found that when my boys grew up and moved away from home I missed them. Who knew? While I had told them I would appreciate hearing from them often the truth is that their idea of often and mine were incredibly different. I found myself missing them and wanting to hear from them more frequently.

There had to be a remedy, and I had a pretty good idea on just how I would prefer to fix this situation. My solution was to phone and leave a message, telling whichever boy I was contacting that I need to hear him tell me how much he loved, adored and missed me and that when he had done this I wouldn’t call them for another week or so. Within a day or two, I would get a call from a smiling boy (you can always hear the smile over the phone) and he would tell me just what I needed to hear. I do the same thing with my husband. If I am feeling a bit neglected, I simply ask him to tell me that he loves me, how fabulous he thinks I am and how lucky we are to be together. He will smile and repeat everything that I have asked him to say, what a great guy! I’m happy because I know he means it, he’s happy because he knows that he’s given me exactly what I needed at the moment. We’re both feeling happy and no one is feeling neglected or misunderstood. That’s definitely a win/win.

My point here is that as nice as it would be for us to communicate through hints and clues, for many of us it simply is not all that effective. In this day of very busy lives, we often don’t have the luxury of face to face communication. In the past we did have that luxury and so much of our communication was body language, hints and subtleties were much more easily understood. Since we now rely on phone calls, emails and quick little chats with one another, we need to be sure that we are easily understood. When we speak calmly, clearly and directly we are much more likely to have our needs and desires understood and that makes it much more likely they will be met.

Please clearly understand, I wish you a fabulous day,