Communication: Separated By A Common Language?

Communication: Separated By A Common Language?

“Indeed, in many respects, she was quite English, and was an excellent example of the fact that we have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.”

Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost, 1887

The Communication Challenge:

We use the same words/language as our partners, and that produces the delusion that we see things the same. Once we realize that our partners see things differently, that is often taken as evidence of madness or badness.


How we define the word love, for example, determines what we hear when another person says it, and whether we think it’s sweet, mad or bad.

The Communication Solution

When someone says something to you, repeat it back to them in your own words until they agree that you have it right, then they do the same thing for you.


“I love you.”

“So, to me that means that you have deep feelings of affection for me. Does that sound right?”

“Yes. Well, it’s more than that. I’d also like to take the next step in our relationship.”

“Ok. So, I’m not sure what you mean by that, could you explain?”

“Well, we’ve been dating. I’d like to be more.”

“Since we’ve been dating, and we’ve never slept over, are you talking about maybe sleeping over with each other now and again, or something more than that?”

“Sleeping over and something more. Like being a couple.”

“To me, being a couple means we tell people we’re a couple, then do what we like. Since we already do what we like with each other, and we’re planning to try sleepovers, are you asking that we tell people so it’s official?”


“Is there more?”

“I think that’s it.”

“So, to be clear, you feel deep affection for me, you’d like to start spending more time together, sleeping over, and telling people that we are coupling up in some way? Have I got it right?”


“Ok, I’m cool with that.”

Of course, what could happen is:

“I love you.”

“I think it’s too early for that. I’m not ready for a commitment.”

And assumptions could rule the day.

Sure, you may break up if what you both want is different, no matter how it’s said, but isn’t it better to break up when you KNOW that you are on different pages, rather than simply assuming you are?

And isn’t it better to stay together for the same reason?

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