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Gibberish Tip #1: Communicating with the Uncommunicative

Updated: Sep 12, 2021



Sometimes, women show up at our sessions flabbergasted as they struggle to communicate with their x partners. Trying to respond rationally to irrational words and trying to remain unemotional while relaying an important, emotionally charged concepts feels impossible.


One of the services I offer is educating women how to effectively express themselves as they respond to nonsensical chatter. Taking a chaotic conversation which can last hours/days with 100’s of exchanges and reducing it to 20 minutes, 30 exchanges, is challenging – especially with the unpredictable communication techniques of some x partners.


Here is a real example of how we changed a potentially explosive situation into a manageable, healthy solution.



At first glance, for those of you who do not live in an environment of gibberish, this exchange may sound ludicrous but it is just one example from one of the many of the women I coach. (Actual names and locations have been changed to protect the client).


While the finished product took intense thought and clarity, I thought I would give you examples of how my client would have responded to each statement before she learned to recognize the baffling word games.


 

Brad:

See you or someone at 6 for pick up. Thanks

Tanya:

Because you won’t confirm you will take Tyler for therapy on Monday, he will be staying with me this weekend.

Brad:

You don’t have that right to keep him - you can take him to therapy at your time and expense I cannot drive to Houston and take 3 hours out of my work day.

Tanya: (What she wanted to say to defend herself)

I don’t know how much that will cost me. Why are you saying that? Don’t you understand how important therapy is?


 

Brad:

What I pray is you find some peace. I will be at your house to pick Tyler up. I am not certain I can drop him off at your home but if I do I would expect him back to mine after the session - not done other fabricated time

Tanya: (What she wanted to say to defend herself)

I have peace. I’m not sure why you are saying that. What do you mean fabricated time? When have I lied about a time? I’m doing all I can do right now.


 

Brad:

Please confirm your return

Tanya: (What she wanted to say to defend herself)

Of course I will take him back to your house. Why would you say that? I always do.


 

Brad:

After at what time specifically. I am not into your non descriptness

The appointment is from 10-11.

Tanya: (What she wanted to say to defend herself)

I don’t understand what you mean by “non descriptness”- I always tell you exactly what I am doing.


 

Brad:

So you said. After wards means when? 1130? 1145?

Tanya: (What she wanted to say to defend herself)

I’ll do my best to get him home immediately after the appointment but I can’t guarantee I won’t run into any traffic. Will it be ok if we run a few minutes late because of traffic? I’ll be sure to text if anything happens.


 

Brad:

So no later than noon. Agreed?

Get on the car from where? You house? The appointment? Specifics are required

Because we don’t need to be confused or open ended. I am sure you understand.

Tanya: (What she wanted to say to defend herself)

I’m confused. I already said I was leaving the appointment and coming to your house. I don’t understand what you are saying.


 

Brad:

Lie - manipulate- omit - you know - those little sins against our Father and Christ - I am not worried

Tanya: (What she wanted to say to defend herself)

Sorry. You sounded worried I wouldn’t be bringing him home and I’m not sure what you mean by the lies? When have I lied?


 

Brad:

He will be at you home by 10am as you demanded.

Subject to you returning him as you stated.

Tanya: (What she wanted to say to defend herself)

I didn’t demand he be at my house at 10. It is just the time that will get him to the appointment on time.


ARGHHHH!



Do you see a recurring theme from his communication pattern? Her responses above assume she is at fault and has done something to warrant his line of questioning. In fact, all she is trying to do is to get her son to therapy. Every single time Dad responds to her, it is a dig and if she isn’t on her toes and hasn’t developed the tools to respond, she will get stuck in what we call “word salad” which leads to, well, nowhere.


Here’s how the conversation went as she worked with me in her responses.



Brad:

See you or someone at 6 for pick up. Thanks

Tanya:

Because you won’t confirm Tyler for therapy on Monday, he will be staying with me this weekend.

Brad:

You don’t have that right to keep him - you can take him to therapy at your time and expense I cannot drive to Houston and take 3 hours out of my work day.

Tanya:

Then drop him off here earlier in the morning.

Brad:

What I pray is you find some peace. I will be at the house to pick Tyler up. I am not certain I can drop him off at your home but if I do I would expect him back to mine after the session - not done other fabricated time

Tanya:

Please confirm yes you will bring him. He will need to be here at least by 10am.

Brad:

Please confirm your return

Tanya:

I will return him after. Please confirm you will bring him.

Brad:

After at what time specifically. I am not into your non descriptness

Tanya:

The appointment is from 10-10:50am.

It’s on the calendar.

Brad:

So you said. After wards means when? 1130?1145?

Tanya:

I will get in the car and drive to your house.

Brad:

So no later than noon. Agreed?

Get on the car from where? You house? The appointment? Specifics are required

Because we don’t need to be confused or open ended. I am sure you understand.

Tanya:

I will walk out of the appointment, get in the car and start driving to your home. What are you worried I’m going to do?

Brad:

Lie - manipulate- omit - you know - those little sins against our Father and Christ - I am not worried

Tanya:

So, will you bring him here on Monday so I can take him to therapy?

Brad:

He will be at you home by 10am as you demanded.

Subject to you returning him as you stated.

Tanya:

I will return him.



 

The difference between the two possible conversations is dramatic. Her gut was screaming “DEFEND!! I HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING WRONG!!” But the brain chimed in with, “Hey, this his his game and you don’t need to play. The bottom line is getting our son to therapy.”


This style of communicating takes time to learn and recognize- it isn’t easy putting our emotions aside when we are fighting for the safety of our children.


Bottom line is this:

  • BREATHE before you respond,

  • Wait 24 hours if you can or

  • Schedule an appointment with me!

Stay tuned for more communication tips and be sure to sign up for the upcoming groups- you are not alone!




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