Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Advice for 'fluid' communication

In his excellent book The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman writes,
Quality conversation requires not only sympathetic listening but also self-revelation.  When a wife says, "I wish my husband would talk.  I never know what he's thinking or feeling," she is pleading for intimacy.  In order for her to feel loved, he must learn to reveal himself.  If her primary love language is quality time and her dialect is quality conversation, her emotional love tank will never be filled until he tells her his thoughts and feelings.
Then Chapman offers an analogy which I find particularly helpful:
Not all of us are out of touch with our emotions, but when it comes to talking, all of us are affected by our personalities.  I have observed two basic personality types.  The first I call the "Dead Sea."  In Israel, the Dead Sea catches the water flowing into it from the Jordan River.  The Dead Sea, though, goes nowhere.  It receives but it does not give.  This personality type receives many experiences, emotions and thoughts throughout the day.  They have a large reservoir where they store that information, and they are perfectly happy not to talk.
On the other extreme is the "Babbling Brook."  For this personality, whatever enters into the eye-gate or the ear-gate comes out the mouth-gate and there are seldom sixty seconds between the two.  Whatever they see and hear they tell.  Many times, a Dead Sea marries a Babbling Brook.  
 That happens because when they are dating, it seems like a very attractive match. But five years after marriage, the Babbling Brook wakes up one morning and says, "We've been married five years, and I don't know him."  Meanwhile, the Dead Sea is saying, "I feel like I know her too well.  I wish she would reduce the flow and give me a break."  The good news is that  Dead Seas can learn to talk and Babbling Brooks can learn to listen and give needed space.  The good news is that we are influenced by our personalities, but we don't have to be controlled by them.  We can channel them into becoming conversational blessings to those around us.
Whether you're a Dead Sea or a babbling brook, that's good news.

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