Monday, June 16, 2008

Lesbians, Communication, and the Cute Girl on the Golf Course


(Puzzle piece number 12 of 38.)
I am not a lesbian. Yet.

But don’t you wonder how men and women withstand long-term relationships? The genders operate as differently as automatic and manual transmissions, just grinding away. Communication errors and differing ranges of bandwidth may be partially to blame.

One’s ear may contain a banana and not hear what someone’s voice is saying. The message becomes convoluted, a fruit salad.

Or the speaker may lack clear delivery skills, spewing a mouthful of BFM, bovine fecal matter, the message lost in stench.

Or the listener’s mind could be filled with so much psychobabble that nothing can be accurately heard, like an iPod-wearing, singing-and-dancing teenager just told to vacuum the carpet. (Hmm, that gives me an idea.)

Or maybe a person just doesn’t want to hear. Let’s read this couple’s conversation.

She: “Loverly like a bunch of coconuts it is today, my dear. Let’s get out and play some tennis.”

He: “Yeah! But it’s a better day for golf!”

She: “Uh-huh. Well, afterward maybe we could grab some Thai food to spice things up a bit.”

He: “You bet! But I’d like to bite into a big burger. I’m getting hungry already.”

She: “How about if we call Brent and Kathy and see if they’d like to get together for happy hour.”

He: “Maybe. Though watching the game then jumping in bed sounds better. I’ll go get my clubs!”

According to the Oxford Dictionary on my iBook, the second definition of communication reads “the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings.” Note the word successful.

Verbal communication (vs. listening) has been estimated to be about 7 percent words spoken and 38 percent delivery and tone of voice. The remaining 55 percent is expressed via body language—facial expression, foot tapping, club in hand.

In the fact sheet “Stress and Communication,” the authors state that “the core of effective communication is listening.”* Listening.

Please permit me a small generalization. If a study were conducted on men listening to their wives, and if the wives were to talk about their relationship rather than sports, food, or sex, actual listening may be from 2 to 5 percent. Ninety-five to 98 percent of the husbands’ thoughts may be about what time a ball game will be on TV, planning his next meal, or thinking about that cute girl on the golf course.

Do women hear any better if a guy is talking about the ’48 Chevy he’s restoring, the score of the last ball game, or the cute girl on the golf course? I suspect her ears would prick up a bit on the latter.

Especially if the listener is a lesbian. But she’d wonder about the girl’s swing.

copyright © 2008 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

* Suzanna Smith and Joe Pergola, “Stress and Communication,” University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service (November 1991), quoted in National Ag Safety Database (April 2002), www.cdc.gov/nasd/docs/d000001-d000100/d000012/d000012.html.

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