“What the hell is he or she thinking?” I am sure many of you have found yourself mouthing these words or thinking this phrase in your head when dealing with your partner. They seem to do or say things at times defy common sense or at least, basic logic. My previous articles have dealt with the LOGIC/DO and FEEL/VALIDATE archetypes and learning to adjust your antenna (that is, practice effective communication) to when dealing with your partner. Here, we will examine thought processes, in an effort to clarify what drives your partner to say and do some of the things that seem to annoy the living daylights out of you.
It is said that, “common sense isn’t that common anymore.” In fact common sense never was. Common sense can be a very subjective term as what makes sense to one, does not always make sense to another. Think of the glass of water “half full or half empty” analogy, the validity of that statement depends completely on your point of view. To some, the glass is half full, to others, half empty, and yet to another party it is simply a glass with water in it. This is why I mentioned in a previous column, that often you and your partner are actually on the same side of a decision but communication obstacles prevent effective and constructive dialogue. Think of the political process, people on the right and the left arguing on a particular problem that must be solved. That covers the “common” part. However, when it comes to sense, they have differing views and argue from a point of passion or self interest that makes sense only to them. In some cases, opponents will make an argument, that from a neutral and impartial party’s point of view is completely illogical, but they make their argument to be deliberately contrary. That is, to argue for the sake of arguing. They only hold a position because it is deliberately opposite of their opponent and heaven knows they do not want to actually agree on anything!
So, back to our partners; the subjective analogy of the glass “half full or empty” can be applied to issues in our daily lives with our partner. The trash for instance; let’s say one of you put a 25 gallon garbage bag in a 10 gallon trash can. For days you both have been putting trash in it. At 10 gallons, it is full and trash starts overflowing. From both partners’ point of view the trash needs to be emptied. But the way they perceive the solution differs. Let’s use a FEEL/VALIDATE living with LOGIC/DO for a moment.
The FEEL/VALIDATE sees the trash as overflowing and to them it is disgusting, it makes them feel as if their home is not tidy when they look at it, and it is upsetting to them. They wonder why their partner cannot see the same thing, why it does not evoke the same emotions from them to make them empty the trash. They say something scathing to their partner like, “can’t you see the damn trash overflowing?” Their partner gets up in a huff then removes the bag from the can and places it on the side of the can. Then the FEEL/VALIDATE walks by and sees the trash bag outside of the can and becomes more angry. Instead of vocalizing their concerns, they internalize it, and store their anger with their partner for later use; leaving the trash the way it is, wondering how long their partner will ignore the problem. So let’s put the issue into a quick algorithm:
Problem with trash –> feeling disgusted–> emotionally upsetting–> indirectly mention to partner–> solution insufficient—> angry with partner
Now let us look at the problem from the LOGIC/DO point of view: Their partner has just made a sniping, angry remark about the trash overflowing. They go to the trash can and see a 25 gallon back in a 10 gallon trash can and shake their head. “First off, why didn’t they just remove the bag themselves?” Then their thought process proceeds to, “The bag is overflowing why doesn’t my partner just pull the bag out of the can so that we can get use of that extra 15 gallons of space?” Shaking their head, they pull the bag out and place it on the side. To them the problem is solved, they go back to whatever they were doing before but their partner furrows their brow at them. So the LOGIC/DO algorithm is:
Partner upset about trash–> Bag too big for can—> More space left in bag–> remove bag to utilize extra space—> problem solved–> partner still angry.
In both cases, they recognized the problem. The trash was overflowing; it needed to be removed from the can that was the common part. However, their visualization of the solution differed. To the FEEL/VALIDATE, the problem was not the trash per se, but the way it made them FEEL, their home is an reflection of their emotional peace and the trash was making them uneasy. As a result, they wanted the trash removed altogether, and out of sight. However, instead of asking their partner to TAKE OUT the trash, they lashed out at the “apparent” obliviousness of their partner by asking them if they cannot see the same thing they can. In actuality what they meant was, “Can’t you see this the SAME WAY, that I do?” But they did not vocalize it that way and instead launched an emotional attack at their partner. Furthermore, when the solution was deemed insufficient in their eyes, they again did not vocalize it but instead stored the infraction in their “emotional Rolodex” for later use.
To the LOGIC/DO partner, the emotional attack was completely unnecessary; after all they are not stupid! Then, when they see the problem, they are completely puzzled as to why their partner just didn’t remove the bag. Then, noticing that the bag is not truly full, and not wanting to be wasteful, they simply remove the bag from the container to allow more trash to be put into it thereby being more efficiently used. Problem solved! They return to their previous activity, to them this is a closed issue. The anger and/or resentment comes when their partner brings this issue up later as being an insufficient solution when they never specified what they wanted; to them, illogic is frustrating.
This example is to illustrate the thought processes of a FEEL/VALIDATE in comparison to a LOGIC/DO. FEEL/VALIDATE people see the world in terms of what it makes them; feel! Their passions fuel their actions as well as their thoughts. The things within their sphere of influence, again, particularly their homes, are a direct reflection of their emotional state. Their desks at work, have pictures of their loved ones, or things that bring them peace, or at least that feeling of being at home. When formulating what they say, they speak what they are emotionally experiencing at the moment. Unfortunately, sometimes they do not realize that they convey emotion, rather than meaning, when communicating their needs and desires to their partner. There is a lot of internal monologue when they think, and they tend to verbalize the punch lines. In other words, they have mentally formulated what they actually mean, but only communicate the most emotionally prominent ideas in that monologue, storing the rest AND holding their partner responsible for the part never vocalized. Think of someone breaking up with their partner and saying, “I have been telling you X forever and you just don’t listen.” Incredulously, their partner says to themselves,” When did you say this??” That is because they are holding their partner responsible for a part of the conversation they never had with them but in their minds, was just as real as if they did. Ever see a mother, get angry at her child, and scold them and after the child walks away, she is still mumbling to herself as if she is telling the child all of this info? Same deal.
LOGIC/DO people see things and issues from a solution based standpoint. There is no interconnectivity with individual issues unless they are related. They perceive the problems as this (a), leads to this (b), leads to this (c), leads to this (d), so if I solve this (a) I prevent the chain of actions. Their thoughts deal with each issue and solution as they present themselves, which means they deal with the issue at hand. They do not necessarily think of the underlying cause until they solve the problem, because they cannot change the cause; only use that information to prevent a repeat of that problem. This is a person who deals with a problem directly, ( a fix) and as far as they are concerned, believes it is over until there are residual side effects. LOGIC/DO people do not view a problem as an attack on their person but as defect that needs to be rectified. They tend to remain dispassionate until their intelligence or logic is questioned. They prefer a “bottom line up front approach” when dealing with their partners. Forget the static, “what do you want me to DO about it?” Life, even relationships, is a series of puzzles. Triumph comes from figuring out individual solutions to individual problems and collective solutions to collective problems. They can be very cerebral but very blunt and “matter of fact” when communicating.
When dealing with a FEEL/VALIDATE, instead of asking,”What’s wrong?” which already has a negative connotation and triggers a negative dialogue ask, “How are you feeling?” This allows the leeway of communicating both aspects of their emotional state in a dialogue and also makes them feel as if their thoughts and feelings are important to you. It validates them. When dealing with a LOGIC/DO person one should be specific without being condescending. Think solution-based and do not present a problem unless you are also presenting a possible solution so that they feel as if you taking part in problem solving process, but are consulting them for their logical skills. Do not assail them with negative emotions as it only makes them shut down or tune you out. Finally, if you are not satisfied with their solution, re-specify your parameters and present them dispassionately, they will appreciate you for not attempting to rip their heads off.
Next month: What is he or she thinking..continued.