Undercommunicating

This week in my planning mastermind group, we’re talking about marriage meetings. Marriage meetings are something I started getting serious about this year in order to “communicate on purpose” with my spouse. It helps us talk over the good and the bad as well as get on the same page with goals, finances and schedules. It’s been a game changer.

One of the main reasons we needed this meeting is because I’m an undercommunicator. In her book Breaking Busy, Alli Worthington describes it this way. Undercommunicators are “people who talk less or hold back from expressing their opinions or feelings.”

Here are some signs you might be an undercommunicator, according to Alli:

  • You think people don’t follow your directions well
  • People often fail to live up to your expectations
  • You find yourself doing things you don’t want to do because you don’t want to speak up
  • Your spouse often complains, “I’m not a mind reader you know!”

As a person who hardly ever shuts up, I never would’ve considered myself an undercommunicator until I read Alli’s book. Then it hit me:

I communicate minimally and expect maximumly.

This goes with my husband and with my kids. Not on purpose. I just assume they understand what is going on, what’s needed, what’s expected. And, in many cases, I’ve just assumed all the work or burdens because I don’t want to speak up or am slightly trepidatious of the consequences. Maybe you’re like me? Does it sometimes feel easier to just do it / deal with it yourself than communicate about it? Does it sometimes feel easier to just go with the flow than communicate about it?

I often end up in situations and with things that I did not desire because of this undercommunication problem. One of my tattoos is missing a crucial detail I wanted because I couldn’t bring myself to tell her to redesign it! A tattoo? Are you kidding me?

I used to find myself spending my family vacations not doing anything my heart desired because I didn’t clearly communicate what it was I would like to be doing.

Likewise, I find myself giving my kids tasks and then being frustrated with the results. The reason though, is I didn’t clearly communicate my full expectations. Hello, they’re kids. They probably don’t know it all Shana! However, if I do communicate exactly what I expect (and especially if there is a visual aid) they tend to nail it.

Can you relate? These are some examples. They’re small. But the little stress, the little resentments, they add up. And for what reason? Whenever I do communicate, people are usually happy to at least try to see my point of view or even comply.

On the other hand, overcommunicators are not necessarily better. You might be an overcommunicator if you’re always thinking of the next thing you’ll say in a conversation, if you say goodbye several times in a phone call or even have been accused of hijacking a conversation or meeting. Overcommunicators overwhelm conversations and sometimes talk a lot without saying anything.

Both types of communication waste time, energy and can generate frustration. In my marriage, I cannot afford wasted time, energy and frustration. If I want to have an awesome marriage, I have to communicate intentionally. With three young kids, careers and schedules that make my head spin, a meeting is a must. It gives us a chance to communicate on purpose. Uninterrupted. It allows me the space and time to overcome my undercommunicator patterns.

So, let me know if you’re an undercommunicator or overcommunicator. How can you overcome? Be sure to check out my original marriage meeting post here.

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