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Gibberish Tip #3: Communicating with the Uncommunicative







Between a rock and a hard place. ARGH! There are times when you simply have no good choices.


How can you survive an impossible situation? I suspect if you are reading this, your situations range from minor inconveniences that feel like an avalanche is looming over you to major issues that feel like an avalanche is crushing you.


First, you have to decide which situation you are dealing with. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is the worst thing that will happen in this situation?

2. What is the next worst thing that will happen?

Continue down this path until you finally reach the most awful thing you can think of and decide is it a nonnegotiable or is it an inconvenience? Will the situation result in catastrophic injury or frustrated annoyance?


Sometimes, if we look at a situation by thinking through a logical progression of the most awful outcome we can think of, we come to conclusions incongruent with the fears our hearts carry.


Let’s explore what I mean:

 

Below is a real life text situation with a client and her "uncommunicative".


First, see how my client wanted to respond to her partner.

Second, see how she actually responded.

(Actual names, locations and dates have been changed to protect the client).


 

(Quick summary: Tanya is supposed to pick up her daughter, Erin, at 7:30am per their Shared Parenting Plan (SPP). However, for her to get her son, Cole to school on time, she needs to pick Erin up at 7:15am. The “uncommunicative” turns this simple request into a debacle as Brad pulls in a separate issue- unrelated to the early morning pick up. His debate causes more confusion and finally Tanya has no choice but to do what Brad demands.)


Tanya:

I’ll pick Erin up at 7:15.


Brad:

Why

Tanya:

Its Monday. She has school tomorrow. We go through this every week. I need to get her to school on time. I must take Cole to school tomorrow too and his school starts at 8am.


Brad:

So drop off Cole and get Erin?


Tanya

I actually have a life and can’t accommodate that as I said the last time I picked her up. If I pick her up after 8 when Cole needs to be at school, that gets me home too late to get to work on time.


Brad:

Every 2 week you refuse to allow me the same grace. This based on this record, I will be coming at 6 pm on my mondays going forward. like you, i need the time to work which I respect and appreciate your job and efforts. Time to be mutually reasonable vs demanding. Thanks for agreeing.


Tanya:

Seriously? Do you know how spell check works? I have no idea what that garbled response means. I will see you at 7:15am. Your chatter is referring to me giving you an extra 2 and a half hours in the afternoon- not 15 minutes at 7:15 in the morning. Pretty sure you aren’t doing any work this early.


Brad:

We will be taking it to trial. If you want to be here then amend the spp. it goes both ways. I work.


Tanya:

Does everything need to be dramatic for you? I’m talking about arriving 15 minutes early to help the kids out and you are throwing a temper tantrum like a 2 year old!


Brad

Neither does me working become an inconvenience to you.. No one is there on those times except Erin so please stop this silly control behavior.

I work too. And I need 6 pm every other Monday. Amend the spp if you want to pick them up early. She will be ready at 730.

You give me no choice.


Tanya:

Oh my gosh. What are you talking about? Seriously, this is about 15 minutes. Cole will be late if you don’t let me pick up Erin early. I have to drive all the way back to my house to get Cole after I pick up Erin from your house in the morning. It is just not feasible.


Brad:

Erin will be ready at 730. Drop Cole off on the way. No impact to his education.

See you at 730-745.

To you offer. I suggestrd you drop them off at 6 and I would accommodate your compromise and take everyone for a swap at Cole’s school. You want me to drive both ways as punishment. It’s on the wall Tanya. Your butter ESD toward me has made you look old.

Amend the spp if you want to be early.


Tanya:

Are you drunk? Because, yet again, you are not making any sense. Cole can’t even get into the school until 8am! Do you want me to leave him in the parking lot? And what the heck? You will let me be 15 minutes late (7:45) but not 15 minutes early (7:15)? What is up?


Brad:

Right. Well that’s another story. You have threatened me today and been less than honest.

So what’s the truth?

It’s 17 min to his school. If you get here at 740 you can make it to his school. Can’t help you all make unilateral decisions and want to tell me what to do vs follow SPP.

Believe me I would prefer we are flexible but you simply don’t allow that to occur.


NEXT DAY

Tanya (In Brad’s driveway at 7:15am)

I guess if I had driven like a maniac and sped the whole way and made Cole wake up 40 minutes before he is supposed to and ride in the car for an extra 45 minutes that would make you happy. I’m not doing that. I’m here in the driveway.


Brad: (Sent Erin out at 7:30am)

For a smart woman you play Dumb a lot Tanya.

She (Erin) was sleeping.

 

Here is how the actual communication unfolded:


Tanya

I’ll pick Erin up at 7:15.


Brad:

Why


Tanya:

So I can get Cole to school on time.


Brad:

So drop Cole off and get Erin?


Tanya

We have had this same discussion. I work.


Brad

Every 2 week you refuse to allow me the same grace. This based on this record, I will be coming at 6 pm on my mondays going forward. like you, i need the time to work which I respect and appreciate your job and efforts. Time to be mutually reasonable vs demanding. Thanks for agreeing.


Tanya:

Umm. It is 15 minutes. Not 2 and a half hours. If you want to amend the SPP, please submit your request.


Brad:

We will be taking it to trial. If you want to be here then amend the spp. it goes both ways. I work.


Tanya:

Are you saying I need to get Cole to school late today? I will be 15 minutes early and it does not inconvenience you at all and it is in the best interest of the children.


Brad:

Neither does me working become an inconvenience to you.. No one is there on those times except Erin so please stop this silly control behavior.

I work too. And I need 6 pm every other Monday. Amend the spp if you want to pick them up early. She will be ready at 730.

You give me no choice.


Tanya:

Seriously? You are going to make Cole late because you can’t let me get Erin 15 minutes early? You let me get them 10 minutes late the past 2 mornings they stayed at your house. Given this information, I cannot get her this morning until nearly 11 which means Erin will miss school as she has calls from 10-12.

I offered to let you pick the kids up at 6 via OFW if you would help me the following morning by bringing them to Cole’s school and you refused to compromise. Again, it is 15 minutes and it is in the best interest of the children. I will be there at 715 so Cole can get to school on time. I would recommend you address this issue when it does not impact the education of the kids.


Brad:

Erin will be ready at 730. Drop Cole off on the way. No impact to his education.

See you at 730-745.

To you offer. I suggestrd you drop them off at 6 and I would accommodate your compromise and take everyone for a swap at Cole’s school. You want me to drive both ways as punishment. It’s on the wall Tanya. Your butter ESD toward me has made you look old.

Amend the spp if you want to be early.


Tanya:

I can’t. The school doesn’t even open until 8


Brad:

Right. Well that’s another story. You have threatened me today and been less than honest.

So what’s the truth?

It’s 17 min to his school. If you get here at 740 you can make it to his school. Can’t help you all make unilateral decisions and want to tell me what to do vs follow SPP.

Believe me I would prefer we are flexible but you simply don’t allow that to occur.


NEXT DAY

Tanya: (In Brad’s driveway at 7:15am)

Ok. I’m not sure what you are talking about but I’m here so I can get Cole to school on time. Can you send Erin out? Thanks.


Brad: (Sent Erin out at 7:30am)

For a smart woman you play Dumb a lot Tanya.

She was sleeping.


 

This has several issues to dissect. Let’s just look at the “worst case scenario” activity I described earlier.


Her worst case scenario is getting Cole to school late because Brad will not let her pick up Erin 15 minutes early in the morning. Her choices are:

  1. honk the horn repeatedly in Brad’s driveway at 7:15am hoping Erin will come outside (that would have felt really good, I am sure),

  2. bang on Brad’s door until he releases Erin,

  3. sit in her car waiting for Erin to be released whenever Brad chooses and get Cole to school a little late.


She chose option 3 because it would cause the less stress for Erin, and the worst-case scenario of Cole being tardy was inconvenient, not catastrophic. The worst thing that would happen is that Cole would be marked "late."


Here’s your plan:

Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that will happen if I do ___________?”

Next, ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that will happen if I choose the above?”

Continue until you get to the end of your choices. If the answer is not going to hurt you or the children, choose the logical answer.


In contrast to Gibberish Tip #1, Tanya felt defensive, in Gibberish Tip #2, Tanya felt frustrated, and here, Tanya feels cornered. By helping her see that she does have choices, even though they aren’t her favorite choices, she learns she has more control over her life instead of feeling under Brad’s control.



“Be brave and fearless to know that even if you do make a wrong decision, you are making it for the right reason.”

Adele


For more support, join my groups or sign up for personal coaching sessions.







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