Brooklyn boyfriend has odd communication style



Dear Carolyn:

I would love some perspective on how to accept my significant other’s communication style. For 20 years I have told him I would appreciate it if he would initiate conversations about what’s going on in my life and ask me how/what/why questions instead of yes/no questions. At this point it’s clear it’s not going to happen, so I need to figure out how to make peace with this. He does listen and is supportive, and much of his focus is on other things he does to make our lives better — money, house maintenance, etc. — which I am very grateful for.

I think this communication issue is all because he’s from Brooklyn, where apparently everyone is raised to say everything they are thinking and feeling and everyone talks about every single thing that happened to them every day whether anyone asked or not.

— Not From Brooklyn

I guess I’ll find out soon whether I have any readers in Brooklyn.

Unless they’re all too busy talking about themselves without prompting or punctuation.

I’ll accept your whacktastic theory as fact only for the sake of convenience, and stipulate that you, not being from Brooklyn, are temperamentally in need of prompting before you talk about yourself. OK.

So: Why was it so obvious that he had to learn to prompt you? Obvious enough that it fueled 20 years of effort on your part to change his style?

Why wasn’t it just as obvious to you that you had to learn to talk without being prompted to speak?

But, duh. I’m from Connecticut.

It seems the difference you took for granted is that, in your opinion, your style of communication is superior to his, so it went without saying for two decades that he needed to become more like you. And if true, then that was and remains unfair. Certainly to the good people of greater New York.

The main difference I see is that you want the change and he apparently is fine with things as they are. And really, if you want a good rule for change on anything, then it’s right there in your lap. The person wanting the change needs to be the one making the change. In themselves.

So there’s your path to acceptance, too: Stop judging and start talking the talk.

 

Hi, Carolyn:

I recently started working at a minimum-wage job, driving people to and from my employer’s business, after years of a professional career.

I am uncomfortable accepting tips in this position because I am more financially secure than any of these individuals; I know this because of the type of business my employer is in. Is there a polite way to decline without offending the customer?

— S.

Aren’t you lovely. Thank you for your sensitivity to your clientele.

Accept the tips and donate them, perhaps in service of those you serve. Or invest in small luxuries they can enjoy for the ride.

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Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

Syndicated Advice Columnist
Advice Columnist Carolyn Hax takes your questions and tackles your problems.
Carolyn Hax

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