Back when we were kids, we resolved our differences with our friends in the simplest of ways. We said to the friend we were having a disagreement with, “I’m not your friend anymore”. Usually we said those words in a whiney voice right before walking away to play with someone else. That message was clear and the resulting action was even clearer, we simply stopped talking to the person, we cut the friendship with and that was the end of the story. Later, when both parties had enough of not being friends anymore , one child would come to the other and say “I am your friend now” and that was enough of a reason for the kids to go back to playing with each other as if nothing had ever come between them in the first place.
Somehow as we grow older, communication becomes more complex. We lose that simple ability to say just the right words to express our needs, our likes, and dislikes. We either choose not to say anything hoping that the other party would miraculously figure out what we need from them or we say more than we should. We have all been guilty of saying pointless statements like “He should have understood” or “She should know why I am upset” only to feel bad when we realize that he doesn’t understand and she doesn’t know, as we simply because we didn’t tell them.
So, I can’t help but wonder when did we get so deep and complex, and when did we resign ourselves to wasting time waiting for others to read our minds. What happened to the simple “I’m not your friend anymore, because you ate my sandwich”?
We put too many rules for ourselves as adult on how we should or shouldn’t communicate. If we tell someone why we are upset with them, they would think we are rude, and if we don’t, we waste time feeling upset with the other person for not getting us. It seems like we can never seem to win as adults in a disagreement.
We sometimes don’t even allow ourselves to have a disagreement. After all, aren’t we supposed to share the same ideals all the time? I’m not embellishing the reality here. Along with developing the skill to mind read why a person is upset with you, as an adult you are even expected to nod your head in agreement with anyone older than you, or simply more experienced in life than you. An older person would not even listen to your opinion at times. While two kids would simply say to each other “I like batman and you like superman” and they would both be fine, an older person would say “I like batman and you should too”, and you would want to maintain your reputation of being polite so you would say “Sure I will like batman too”.
Kids are even better than us when it comes to asking questions. A child would ask his/her friend “Where did you get your toy, I want to buy one like it.” , while you as an adult can’t say that to your friend . I assure you that if you ask a friend “Where did you get the Jacket, “ your friend will wonder if you are trying to figure out the price of the jacket, or if you will buy one which is the same and copy them. It doesn’t matter that people all dress the same in Amman anyway, and that most of them are slaves to fashion, but you can’t know where your friend bought the jacket. The jacket is an example, but this rule applies to all questions you can ask the friend. In fact, you may not be allowed to ask anything in case you come off as too curious or as too invasive of the friend’s personal space.
If communication is this complex, maybe we shouldn’t all be trying too hard to maintain our politeness, and maybe we should express our differences without the labels and ask all what is on our mind. Maybe then we wouldn’t be so rigid with the social rules, and maybe then we can be more diverse in our conversations. It is only when we are more open to any opinion other than the one we were taught by the more experienced, we will stop feeling the need to hide our views. Maybe then we can evolve.
The more I think about this theory, the more I believe that we had it right when we were kids. We kept communication simple and straight to the point, but that was before we made it more complex with social rules. So let’s talk like kids , about the issues we face as adults. It is that simple.
Let’s all Grow Down.
Also published on our online monthly magazine