Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

I’m no statistician, but I’m pretty sure 90 percent of all arguments are due to miscommunication. Whether it’s in a relationship or at a job, not being on the same page can cause a huge deal of strain and frustration. When expectations are demanded without being verbalized, both parties end up disappointed and angry. And you know what they say, when you assume you make an ass out of u and me. (Do you get it!?)

Recently, after a he said/she said argument, I exclaimed: “They should teach communication in school because no one knows how to do it!” Of course, then I realized they do, obviously, teach communication in school. In fact, I graduated in Mass Communication (with a specialization in Advertising and a minor in Theatre, ahem). What I meant, though, was that person-to-person communication should be required for everyone; it would solve a lot of problems.

Several times in this column I have talked about the fact that our country is in a mental health epidemic. Though I still believe that to be true, I think open and honest communication would help a majority of the problems that plague our society. I’m not just talking about therapy; I’m talking about learning to express yourself and your expectations to another individual.

Middle school bullies might talk to their parents about needing more attention instead of tormenting the unpopular kid. Disgruntled employees might work out their frustrations with management instead of plotting to shoot up the office. Disappointed husbands might work with their partner to liven up a marriage instead of turning to “Ashley Madison.”

Communication is more than just talking about your feelings. Personally, I’m pretty great at communicating. Whether one-on-one or en masse, I’m good at getting my point across. When it comes down to it, I am a communicator at heart. That’s what I do. I’m great at it in many different arenas. I’m good whether I’m speaking face-to-face, over the phone, or via an opinion column that you consistently share with your friends.

As a writer/comedian/spa concierge sometimes it’s hard to explain what I “do.” When meeting new people, at least in the United States, it’s usually the first question you hear: “So, what do you do?” This can mean one of two things: “What is your career?” or “How do you make money to live?” For me, there are always two different answers. And since the recession in 2008, my answer has changed many times.

I’ve been a media buyer/client service coordinator, a dog walker/improviser, a shipping manager/stand-up comedian, and a writer/spa coordinator. In all of those jobs I excelled in communication, and yes, even as a dog walker. You gotta let owners know if their chihuahua, pit-bull, husky mix went #1 or #2 on the walk. (BTW, can we just call that a chipitsky?)

When I was a client service coordinator in advertising, my job was basically to be the liaison between the media buyer and the media planners and then to tell the client where their ads would be aired. I simply just talked for one group of people to another group because they couldn’t speak clearly for themselves. It still floors me sometimes how many positions exist just because people don’t know how to talk to people whose brains work differently than theirs.

Now, I’m not saying I am the best person at communicating all things all the time; everyone has their issues. Over the years, I have had to learn to talk about my feelings or to admit when I wasn’t doing well mentally. When I would go through rough times as a kid, I would put on a brave face and my family would wonder why I threw up nearly everyday.

And even now, all my communication skills go out the window if I’m panicked or late for an event. If you’ve ever been waiting for me to get ready to go out, you know this to be true. I just run around demanding that people bring me things but only refer to them as pronouns: “Bring me the thing so I can finish this, otherwise my hair will be ruined cause I used that other stuff earlier!”

Point is we all have communication issues we need to work on. And unfortunately, they don’t teach us this in school. Obviously, communication with your partner is the most important but knowing how to speak to your family or boss is key as well.

If you’re not happy, say you’re not happy. If you consistently don’t like the way someone talks to you, tell them. Don’t be mean and just try to be honest. Better to say whatever you’re feeling now than blow up about it later and have no control over your temper. Trust me, you can’t keep anything on the inside for forever. Might as well talk about it.

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september

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