Communication is like dancing the tango. It takes two. However, just because you communicate your thoughts to someone doesn’t mean they will be understood. The person I have the hardest time communicating with is my spouse. While this reality can be frustrating at times, I believe the saying is true. Men really do come from Mars and women are from Venus! We simply communicate differently.
It wasn’t until my husband and I were preparing to teach a pre-marriage class for engaged couples at church that we began to learn and practicing good communication skills. We understood the techniques. To communicate clearly you must listen, ask questions, and repeat back what you heard the other person say. Sounds easy enough, right? Not for the teachers. My husband and I found these tools to be easier “taught” than “practiced.”
Most of the time, we were not listening to what the other was saying, but rather thinking up our own defense, and then, sharing it loudly! So to teach the class, and ourselves, how to use these techniques; one of our co-teachers developed a little game called, “Beep-Beep.” She discovered that practicing good communication skills is as easy as ordering a Big-Mac at McDonald’s.
To play the game is easy. It only takes a little imagination and willingness to play by the rules. However, before we begin, let’s review the process of ordering fast food. Therein lies the guidelines of the game.
Before placing your order at any drive-in window, your car rolls over a wire that sounds “Beep-Beep” inside of the restaurant informing them they have a customer. Then, the happy employee acknowledges you. “May I take your order?”
“Yes, thank you. I would like a Big-Mac with fries and a diet coke to balance the calories, please.” You state clearly.
The cheerful employee repeats and clarifies your order. “You would like a Big-Mac with fries and a diet coke. Is this correct?” “Yes, it is!” you confirm with mouth-watering excitement.
Likewise, the process is the same when communicating with your partner. To gain your spouse’s attention, drive over beside them in your imaginary car and say, “Beep-Beep.” This signals to the other person that you need their full attention without interruption. Once you have “placed your order” by making your thoughts known, your partner happily repeats your statement back word for word, just like the employee at McDonald’s does. Then, your spouse asks, “Is this correct?” to clarify they have heard you properly. If so, the pay off is you have successfully made your thoughts known without fuss or fight.
This has become a way of communication for my husband and me. Sometimes, while I’m reading a book, my honey will sit down beside me and say, “Beep-Beep.” Immediately I know there’s an issue he needs to discuss. Other times, I’ve stepped in front of the TV and sounded my horn, “BEEP-BEEP” to gain his attention. Did you notice my horn is a little louder than his?
Approaching you partner with, “Beep-Beep,” is a great way to break the ice and let them know, “I want to talk heart to heart.” Staying within the guidelines allows each person a turn to speak, the assurance of being heard, and the satisfaction of communicating with success.
With this method, you don’t have to wait until Venus is in line with Mars to talk to your spouse. You now have the skills to approach your partner, sound your horn and order up some good conversation. Play by the rules, and you’ll always get what you order! Good communication.