Thursday, August 20, 2009


"The rain in Spain, falls mainly in the plain."

I'm not sure why, but when I was thinking about this post on communication, this quote from My Fair Lady came into my head. While I believe her lessons were mainly focused on the actual pronunciation or annunciation of words, I thought it would be fun to delve into the actual act of communication.

You would think that communication would be easier now than ever. The last 25 years have seen the common-place usage of a ton of communication devices that were previously non-existent or prohibitively expensive.

And yet, as the entire world gets more 'connected' I sometimes wonder if we are drifting further apart.

Does an email or text message adequately substitute for spending quality time together? No, but that is often all we have time for.

So, I was pondering communication and how it relates to Life With Rachael. Even now, Rachael and I are sitting about 3 feet apart. Both of us are busily typing away.

Neither of us are talking.

Which is sometimes OK.

Shoot, sometimes it's probably better than OK. It's a blessing.

What made me decide to write this post was a funny incident that happened tonight. Our kids attend Pacific Coast Christian Academy, where my wife also works. School starts on Thursday, and tonight was their open house. *click on cartoon for full-size version.*

We all met in the main sanctuary of the church that hosts the school. We listened to the general information, applauded the teachers and then were dismissed to go to the classrooms.

This year is quite special for Rachael, as she gets her own music classroom. She has fixed it up very nice.

I was not sure if Rachael would be coming with me and the kids to their classroom, or if she needed to go to her music classroom. I asked her what she was going to do.

She responded, "I'm going to leave now to get down to my music classroom so I can set something up. I'll meet you there."

Now, Rachael is the one that actually works at the school. She is the one that stays more informed with what is going on there. So, when she told me to meet her in her music classroom, I did. It seemed funny to me that I wasn't going to go to the kids classrooms, but I figured she had her reasons.

So, while all the other parents were busily making their way into their kids classrooms, I took all three of our kids down to Rachael's music room.

We walked in the door.

Rachael took one look at us and said, "Why aren't you taking Ben to his classroom? You're supposed to be there."

Now, I have been an active participant in Life With Rachael long enough to realize fairly quickly when one of our conversations has evidently derailed somewhere aways back on the track. I replayed the conversation in my head. Yeah, it was as I remembered it.

So, I said, "I thought I was supposed to go to their classroom, but you told me you were going to your classroom and that you'd meet me here."

I have not yet perfected the art of mind-reading. I am working on it. I have become an amateur student of body language, which yields many clues to what a person is thinking. But I'm still not that great at the actual mind-reading.

When Rachael said she was going to her classroom and she'd meet me there, I didn't realize that 'there' in Rachael's sentence was referring to Ben's classroom, a place that had not even been mentioned in our conversation.

I simply must get better at this mind-reading stuff.

Another, somewhat related communication style of Rachael's is what I'm going to call the hyper-transition.

We went to the Salinas air show a couple of weeks ago. Prior to that we were discussing the schedule, what time it started, etc. The Hyper-Transition went something like this:

"I think the show starts around noon. I was thinking we could go get a late brunch and then head over there."

Rachael: "Sounds good."

"I don't think it will be a big deal if we're not there right when it starts, do you?"

Rachael: "I like Ben's room."


Rachael: "I like Ben's room."

"Wow, that was an interesting and abrupt transition."

Rachael: "Yeah, I just thought about it. But, I really like Ben's room."

While this conversation was harmless enough, one must be careful. Imagine some of the possibilities:

"Honey, do you like the blue tie or the yellow tie better?"

Rachael: "I like yellow."

After getting home and getting dressed up to go to dinner, I walk in wearing the yellow tie.

Rachael: "Oh, I liked the blue tie better. Why'd you get the yellow one?"

"Because you said you liked it better. Remember, I asked you which you liked better and you said you liked yellow."

Rachael: "Well, I do like yellow. When you asked me, it just made me think of colors, and I like yellow better than blue."

The opportunities for confusion can be endless.

If only communication skills were as easy to learn as diction.

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.

Or maybe,

The words in the brain are understood when said plain.

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