Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Almost, anyway. Unfortunately, life is never that straightforward. I swapped books with Sanja when she was here, and one of the books I got was a book about conversation style. It sounded interesting! I finished it before the weekend was over. And it looks very dubious, but it’s worth the while.
What does the author discuss? Basically, interpersonal styles in talking. Sometimes as basic as that different cultures (and that can easily be regional) have different subconscious concepts on how long a pause has to be in order to signal that the speaker is finished. Put two people together that have different (and equally valid) ideas on that, and you’re almost certain that one finds the other impolite and the other finds the one timid, and they won’t get along. Or that some people make, and expect, regular “mmm”-sounds and the likes, to indicate that they are listening, and that there are people who produce, and expect, silence as a same indication, and other people assume “mmm”-sounds signal agreement. Needless to say that can go wrong too if you combine such different people.
The book does not offer much of a solution unfortunately. You can’t just ask these evasive people what they want because they won’t tell you, and asking “do you just say that because it’s a polite thing to say, or do you mean it?” is not going to do the job either. So somehow you’re frustratingly left to try to interpret what the other really means. And history has seen so many examples of that going horribly wrong. How many marriages have stranded on such things going completely pear shaped? I tend to still think saying what you think is, overall, a better strategy. My way is the way!
It was a very educative book. It was a bit like talking to my sister about such topics. Having to admit that maybe you’re trying to do the right thing, but that maybe you do it completely and utterly wrong, and that the people you would like to blame so much are just as right (or wrong) as you are yourself. Painful, but useful, too. I can recommend it to anyone! And I’ll keep on struggling with the above mentioned issue, but for instance the pause thing is something I may very well use to everybody’s advantage soon…