Monday, June 1, 2015
Communicating, Words, Pictures and Talking Too Much
August 4, 2014
After writing a post about "talking too much" and realizing how long it was going to run (I tend to let posts and thought run their course, which means super-long posts), I thought I'd write a second post about talking "too much" or "being a talker". (Well, actually, I cut out a whole big section, started the second post, and then made the original post long anyway - "whatever"...).
As with so many "sayings" or "rules to live by", the idea that people shouldn't talk "too much" tends to assume that there can never be value in talking a lot. It doesn't help that a lot of religions have historically taught (essentially) that silence is a virtue (which, of course, it can be but isn't always). Religions have generally always been run by men (not always known for being the best at communicating within
relationships, and often known for doing a whole lot of talking to a whole lot of people without doing a lot of listening). Let's not get into all that here. In fact, let's not get into all the reasons for, and ways in which, the idea of "talking too much" being a bad thing has so often taken hold in society.
The thing is I only have a view of who talked how much from, say, my own childhood and parents (and aunts, uncles, and a couple of very elderly grandfathers). One of them was "a talker". One was not. Neither did a lot of talking (beyond just a little chatting) with me. My father was a talker, but he wasn't one to unload a lot of personal, heavy, stuff on his own children. My mother was a talker, and she was more skilled at knowing how to share her own background with her kids at a time, and in doses, that was age-appropriate. My mother and sisters were all talkers "amongst themselves". Sometimes what they said was a matter of genuine caring and sharing. Sometimes it could be misguided. Sometimes it amounted to "yakking it up" and plain-old, unappealing and destructive gossip (but most often, I think, the gossip was between two sisters and about another one; so it may have been more a matter of their inadequately understanding one another and/or family dynamics than "genuine" idle gossip, for which mothers/people of my parents generation didn't have a lot of time anyway). This was the 1950's/1960's when there was still ringer washing machines and clotheslines (which also means that my two grandfathers was born in the late 1800's and more a part of living as elderly grandfathers than they were with the "modern day" living era of my childhood).
My parents were quiet people who didn't like "windbags", which (particularly in those days) were either people who didn't know what they were talking about and talked up a big, loud, storm anyway; or else people in careers/jobs known for "windbaggery" and/or seen as "windbaggery" by my parents.
In any case, I was a happy little kid in a nice, peaceful, loving home and with all the attention I needed from adults, mainly because my siblings are spaced four-and-a-half and five years apart from me. I liked my world. I liked people, at least the people who were like my parents (as opposed to adults who grossly underestimated the intelligence of children). So, when I got out into the world among other kids my age I generally liked most of them too (that is if they enjoyed having conversations, which also meant they tended to be girls).
Maybe an unfortunate thing was that as technology more and more became "The Thing" or at least "the latest Thing" talking a lot often became associated with windbags-of-old (the old fashioned salesman, politician, boring and/or overbearing teacher, or even drunken, life-of-the-party types who made crude remarks they wouldn't have made if sober) - and, of course, little girls, three-year-olds of any sex, and parents who talked but never listened, or never even asked. Oh, and let's not forget gossips (once thought of as something women did; but since I've become an adult I've run into pretty much as many guy gossips as women gossips (so who knows what that's all about).
Either way, at least with people of my generation (I'm a second-wave Baby Boomer, which means I'm slightly different than a lot of those first-wave Boomers) the thing was that there were a lot more boys that girls who chose technology for their future careers; while a whole lot of people bemoaned the fact that so many girls still chose "traditional, women's, careers/roles". Money and salaries tend to go with what is most valued in society, and what is most valued in society is generally what makes the most money for anyone; so, without going into the whole thing about some professions having a lot more of some people than the world really needs, who and what makes money, competition, and flashes-in-one-pan-or another that are replaced by the next flashes-in-the next-pans (sometimes because someone created a better pan; other times becomes some pans are no longer useful). The point is it was either easier for the person who went into technology to make bigger "bucks", or else the potential of doing that was greated for those people; while people in the "non-technical" areas/fields were often not paid well, or at least not paid as well as - really - they should have been. (BUT, of course, teachers were often mothers; so they could either have school-vacation time with their own kids or else - mothers or not - use the time to either work somewhere else; unless they wanted to travel. So, when people weren't complaining about teachers salaries they would often see the situation as a kind of one-sided "win/win".)
My point here is not that technology hasn't been a great thing. One problem (with the "talking-too-much" thing has been, though, that men who aren't "all into science" often went into, say, law (and everybody hated windbag/lying lawyers) or business (and a whole lot of people hated windbag-lying business men). And, in a lot of instances there was good reason (often still is). This is, I know, gross generalization; but (again, in general and at least for people of my generation) a lot of the boys/men who were non-verbally inclined and who not only saw themselves as "nice" people and men who wanted to earn well in order to provide for their families headed straight for technology as their career.
Somewhere in the mix of all those events and changes and factors in society (not to mention the ages old thing about how people who say more than one feels like listening to are "windbags" and/or self-centered (and sometimes only because the listen-in-question is, himself, only interested in talking about himself/herself), the person who is very "verbal-communication-focused" has often had any number of darts thrown at his self-esteem (maybe I should have said, "her self-esteem, because - again, at least with my own generation - the "talkers" of the world have either been (or been seen as) girls, women, old ladies ("hens"), or various sundry windbags and/or blowhards of questionable, or at least ignorant, motives.
Not all "talkers" are, or have always been, only women; of course; and not all male talkers are windbags or blowhards. The trouble is (or at least, maybe, has been up until fairly recently and within the decades throughout which I've been an adult) that even nice men who would like to have a real conversation are either afraid to be seen as (perish this thought) "women" or else, themselves, are dealing with a windbag of one sex or another who doesn't know what s/he is talking about, won't ask, won't listen, or doesn't want to hear because what s/he will hear isn't what s/he wants to hear.
All that aside, several months ago I was having what I thought was a really good discussion with a guy who is roughly my age. I said how I'm a verbal person and want my information presented in words - not pictures or graphs. He said he's the opposite (which was no surprise to me because this is someone who, if you ask him a question that could easily be answered in words, will whip out a pen and starting drawing diagrams).
I was kind of floored (as they say) when this individual said, "Now, see... when you talk..) (note: he didn't necessarily mean me, personally, I don't think; although maybe he did) ".... all I hear is blah-blah."
Sometimes communication (even with words) can all can seem pretty hopeless, I guess. There are those who say that one picture is worth a thousand words. I tend to think - no matter who likes, uses, or deems as "too many" one bunch of words or another - that a thousand words will always say so much more than one picture ever can. The trick, however, is in finding the right words - and that (as far as I've ever figured out) "ain't" always easy.
Posted by ME Whelan at 7:24 PM