Communication is very difficult when we are forced to slim it down to simple words. Between passive aggressiveness, emotion assumption, personal agendas and biases, and self-consciousness – it is damn near impossible to be succinct.
That is why I love communications with animals or computers. Sure, you may not always know what the hell you are trying to say to each other, but it is honest and unassuming.
One of the hardest things to convey is apathy. To truly not care about a decision being made is difficult to actually… say. When asked, “Do you want to go to the park?” You have two simple options.
1. “Yes” (I want to go to the park)
2. “No” (I don’t want to go to the park)
However, anything else is a mess. You don’t want to go to the park? Well I don’t not want to go to the park. Do you want to go to the park, because if you do, I am fine with it, I’m just not struck with a burning desire to go. It’s not that I rather not go to the park – no, no, nor is it that I rather go to the park. I just don’t care. I may care later, when I get there and realize the park sucks, but right now… I don’t - not - want to want to go to a park with you. Understand??
Not that it has anything to do with you. Or that it does…
And ultimately, the reason it is so difficult is because people want a decision made for them. Rarely do people want to be in charge. They lack the self-confidence to do so. I always say, “Lead or follow, but don’t do both.”
Even better is when the indecisiveness really is just a thin layer over what really is a preference. They may prefer to go to the park, but they don’t feel strongly about it, and could be talked out of it. So while you are profusely trying to avoid making a decision, they are trying to guide you towards wanting to go to the park. Unless of course it seems that you don’t, in which case they don’t want you to know that they were leaning that way.
I either sit back and say, “What I want is to be told what to do.” Or I say, very specifically, what I want. Even if it isn’t quite what I want. If there is no leader, and I have the means to lead, I will take control. But once I do, watch out, I am not playing the tug of war. I’m probably shooting from the hip too. Sure, let’s go to the park, what the hell! I LOVE the park. I LIVE for the park. If we don’t go to the park today, now that you mentioned it, I am going to be down right depressed. I may not eat for weeks!
“Great! Except that Steve was thinking we would go to the pizza place across town instead, and I’m a little tired. But since you want to go to the park, we will talk to Steve to see if he still wants pizza. And I can just stay behind and wait for you guys, or call Sheila for a ride back so you guys can stay.”
Dammit. And 10 bucks says Steve doesn’t give a shit either.