What Are Your Filters?

How do you hear people?

Obviously, you hear them with your ears. What am I asking is do you put on a filter to hear them? In other words, does your filter add a sarcastic tone to their words? How about an angry or frustrated sound? Do your ears hear their words though a demeaning or condescending filter?

Here’s a scenario:

You’re having a spirited discussion with your wife. You’re irritated. She’s irritated. You make a comment about something that’s a trigger point. You mean it one way but she takes it another. And the way she takes it means that you’re sleeping on the couch for the next few nights.

She has a filter on for your words. And it’s not the pretty filter that makes your words sound like birds chirping and a relaxing mountain stream.

Here’s another scenario. You’ve worked really hard cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. Your wife comes in and thanks you for your hard work but also points out something that she prefers to be done a different way. You take it as a criticism and an argument ensues. You just put on the frustrating filter.

This happens in my house. Both my wife and I are guilty of it and I think it comes with being together for the better part of 15 years. We have a history together and with that history comes inevitable baggage, infecting everything including the way we communicate. It’s as if each argument gets piled on top of every other argument and testy conversation that we’ve ever had to create a full, downloadable archive of those previous arguments and conversations on demand. It’s instant and total recall.

Like a footprint in the sand, that baggage leaves behind an imprint. But unlike a footprint in the sand, it doesn’t just wash away. It remains.

So, how do we change that? Is it even possible?

The first step is recognizing there’s a problem. For instance, during an argument I will say something that upsets my wife. She will restate what I just said using her words and tone but it’s NOT EVEN CLOSE to what I said or meant. At that point, I know that she is hearing something other than the words I’m saying. When I point that out, however, it only adds to more arguing. So, we know there’s a problem.

The question is what can we do? I wish that my wife and I had uncovered a foolproof breakthrough to combat the filter dilemma but we haven’t. The only thing that we are able to do is to try and stop in the moment and try to explain to each other what we mean by the words and tone we’re using. That can be fraught with challenges, though, because each side is amped up and testy and refusing to back down.

Also, I think if we realize that our words and tone are being interpreted by the other person in a particular and unhealthy way, then we need to try and stop using those words and tone. It isn’t easy. And it won’t happen overnight but if we can give each other some room for explanation and the patience to hear them out, it might just begin to put those filters on mute.

(Photo credit: naikalieva / Foter / CC BY-SA)

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The Beginning
About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I’m one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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