Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Because Sometimes I Just Need to Yell

I've been thinking about communication styles lately (2006: the Year I Finally Refine My Communication Skills) and I realized that I am one of those people—people who are not bothered by conflict. It's not that I go looking to create discord, but if I stumble into an argument that's worth having, I'll have it, without much hesitation. (Just ask the numerous people I've gotten into a heated political debate with. In the middle of a bar.)

I've discovered the problem: I approach situations a little too logically. Logic, amazingly enough, is not particularly conducive to a good row. I can typically anticipate how someone else will feel, and am empathetic to their viewpoint, even if I don't share it. The result often is they have some emotional (over)reaction while I calmly analyze the situation and address the underlying facts, overlooking little things like them blaming me for everything or yelling at/about me. Later, in mentally reviewing the course of events, I realize the ways in which someone's words or behavior was totally out of line, and how I really should have smacked them around for it. I can't have them thinking that such behavior is ok, nor that they won the match. (Ahem. Compete much?) I can't leave things at that point, so I make the next logical move: I pick a fight. It's fun, really! And a great stress reliever! You should try it sometime.

A recent encounter went something like this:

Him: Hello?
Me: Are you done being pissy with me? (Aren't I sweet? Didn't even say hello.)
Him: What?
Me: Are you done being pissy with me? I called. You didn't call me back. How else am I supposed to take that?
Him: What? You didn't leave a message; I figured it wasn't important.
Me: Yeah, well, I haven't had that much success when leaving you messages. You could've at least acknowledged that I called. Call back, send an e-mail, whatever. (Lies, all lies. Had he e-mailed, I would have lambasted him for sending an e-mail instead of calling me. Some things just need to be done over the phone. Yelling is one of them.)


Me: Did you even stop for two seconds to think about how I might be feeling? How this wasn't very much fun for me, either? How it's not always about you?
Him: I'm sure this wasn't fun for you.
Me: No, it wasn't.

[More silence.]

Him: What do you want me to say?
Me: Nothing. I just think you could've shown a lot more consideration in dealing with this.
Him: Sorry. (In a not-very-sorry tone)
Me: You don't sound sorry. And you're totally entitled to feel that way. But don't lie to me.

[Again with the silence.]

Him: So, what else?
Me: Nothing, that's it.
Him: That's it?
Me: Yup.

[More silence. Verizon is getting rich off of us, and we're not even talking.]

Me: I'm gonna let you go now.
Him: Ok.
Me: So, you know, if you ever feel like being yelled at, you've got my number.
Him: (laughing) Yeah.
Me: Bye.
Him: Bye.

Was anything resolved? Not really. But I felt a hell of a lot better! Now it's time to sit back and wait for things to blow over. Which they will, of course, because that's the way life goes.

A little tip for anyone out there who may be thinking, "Well, I just won't answer the phone for those first few days and wait for things to blow over": Do Not Kid Yourself. Not returning my phone call merely adds fuel to the fire, and gives me more time to think about the many, many ways in which I will verbally emasculate you, whenever you do call. Because I, like women since the dawn of time, have the ability to hold a grudge in perpetuity, and can access it on a moment's notice. Consider this purely hypothetical scenario:

We date; we break up; we maintain a tenuous friendship. In the midst of one of our better spells, in an up-to-now very cordial e-mail conversation, you jokingly refer to an incident from two months ago that we never really settled. Hypothetically, I could play along and joke about the incident with you. Or, I could answer with a snarky, I'm-dead-serious-about-this reply that leads us into a morass of unresolved issues from the past six months of our relationship, culminating in several rounds of rather uncomfortable phone calls, complete with yelling and a lot of silence.

Hypothetically speaking, that second one is probably a situation you want to avoid.

Believe me when I tell you, you're better off picking up the phone in the first place. Actually, you're best off not being an idiot in the original conversation. But, you're a boy, so the damage is probably already done. Barring that, just answer the damn phone and let me yell for a while.


At Wed Jan 11, 09:33:00 AM PST, Anonymous lori said...

I never call people back who don't leave a voicemail. Because if they want me to call back, they should say so. Also, it drives me insane when I leave someone a voicemail and they call back without listening to it and then I have to repeat myself.

At Fri Jan 13, 07:56:00 AM PST, Anonymous Matty J said...

"Actually, you're best off not being an idiot in the original conversation. But, you're a boy, so the damage is probably already done."

I'm officially offended at this extremely misplaced generalization! I could let you off on a technicality due to the placement of probably, however, I’m not feeling particularly nice today. But, in short, it’s your fault. If you want someone to call you back, leave a message for fuck’s sake!!

At Fri Jan 13, 12:14:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Interesting post. Sounds like you're a little overemotional and you're dealing with an emotional cripple. Good luck!


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