New Question

September 22, 2010

in Communication, Understanding Her

I ask my bride a question recently, and she gave me an answer – but she did not answer the question I asked, she answered the question she thought I asked. I’m not blaming her for the confusion – miss-communication happens and it’s really no one’s fault.

Thing is, I did not follow up well. I asked the question again, just barely modified. She started to give the same answer, and I cut her off (my bad). I then rephrased the question more, but by then we were both a bit frustrated and defensive. Not that I yelled at her to listen to the question, or she yelled at me to let her finish the answer, we were decent to each other, but it is frustrating when this happens.

Having though about it, I have what I hope is a brilliant idea. The next time this happens, my intention is to say “New question” and then ask my question in a significantly different way. Ideally, I will have listened to her answer to the question I did not ask, and will have figured out what she heard so my “new question” can avoid what she thought I was asking.

Is this dishonest, since I am asking her the same question and only asking it differently? From my perspective, that is the case, but from her perspective it is a new question. By telling her it’s a new question, she will know I am not asking what she thought I was. By moving on, rather than getting frustrated that she did not understand me, I make a way for us to more easily accomplish question and answer.

4 comments
Jason
Jason

My wife and I do this all the time. It was extremely frustrating for me at first because our communication has never been very good. Eventually I just learned to accept that the problem is not necessarily with what she is hearing, but that we are all limited in our ability to communicate clearly because our words and tone have very different meanings. For example. One night I was getting frustrated with my wife while I was on the phone with my mother, and so I calmed myself down and slowed down to communicate with my mother, which is what I would do with my wife. (Mom is from a very direct, what you see is what you get culture, Wife is more gentle and laid back). Well, when my mom sensed the change in tone, she was rubbed the wrong way because she felt like I was patronizing her. It was a mess. I learned from this that our cultural upbringing makes a huge difference on how we hear and if we truly want to be heard we need to communicate with our wives in a way that they will understand what it is we are saying. I personally wouldn't use the very direct, "New Question" method with my wife. It would ruffle her feathers. Ive noticed that my wife reads into the question more, like she is thinking/feeling the situation one step ahead of the actual question. My response, although not perfect, im still working on it, has become. "It sounds like you heard this..... But what I am trying to understand and ask is this...." A loving tone is what is more important than anything else otherwise this will get me no where, but also we tend to talk through why she answered the question she did the first way and when we do that opens up a lot of why she responded the way she did. Doing this has given me great insight into my wife. Believe me, we don't have a great marriage so don't take this the wrong way like we have this thing figured out. We don't but we are trying our hardest to make it the best we can.

Eleutheros
Eleutheros

Yea, what Mark John said... I think this is a great idea. OK. It's brilliant! ;) One thing I do is to listen to the answer and then repeat back to her what I heard and then ask, "Is that what you said?" If "Yes "is her answer then I say OK and tell her "I don't think I communicated what I'm trying to ask" then I repeat the question in other words. (If "No" is the answer, then I ask her to clarify till she feels I got it right.) This was, initially, a process that took patience and humility to get through. Now, my bride is a good human, re-sired of Jehovah and so she has His wisdom, through holy spirit. Which means that I soon found myself having to do this less and less as our understanding of each other's heart grew. And the cool thing was that I noticed that she was picking up on my technique and imitating it when she felt 'misunderstood'! I can see, then, how your way is a little shorter in process, if she 'gets it' and that is a good thing. Which being good, as you know, is what we were created to be! ;)

Mark John
Mark John

Why would saying “Let me ask a new question” be dishonest? In your heart you are being honest and just trying to communicate.

matthy
matthy

This happens quite frequently. Thing is, not only are our communication skills limited (we are not perfect, remember?), but we also do come from different contexts when we phrase resp. hear a question. My mind is probably absorbed with the whole issue I'm trying to resolve, but my bride's mind is most certainly focus on other things or maybe on the same thing but certainly from a different perspective. That's why we frequently don't get the "right" answers. Now I don't understand what your problem is in saying "Let me rephrase that question (and perhaps explain the background)" versus "Let me ask a new question" (when in fact it is not a new question for you)?

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