|A squirrel and a turtle.
Photo credits: Gay Bumgarner Images
Imagine with me the hypothetical meeting occurring between a turtle and squirrel. Squirrels are hyper and high-strung, and inclined towards chattiness. Turtles, on the other hand, are staid and steadfast, and as such would prefer to withdraw into the comfort of their shells when feeling overwhelmed. Our little squirrel would want to discuss the dynamics of everything on its mind, and drive our turtle nuts with the information overload that would occur. Our tired turtle would then hide out in its shell, patiently hoping that our speedy squirrel would become impatient and go away.
The simple scenario I’ve drawn above is basically what happens when an introvert meets and extrovert, or whenever two individuals of drastically different energy levels happen to meet and interact. If you’re pretty quick on your feet or naturally inclined to focus on one thing at a time, you’re going to feel frustrated when the pace you’re used to is changed on you. In an ideal situation, you have a good idea of what your baseline preferred state is, and those around you operate on your same wavelength.
However, life often calls on us to interact with others who are on different speed settings. Instead of getting frustrated with the other person when you find yourself at a communication impasse, put yourself in the other person’s shoes because odds are, they may be flummoxed by you, too. If you’re really committed to your message, you need to find a way to construct a bridge between the vast divide presently between you and the other individual.
This is the key to effective communication: finding common ground. It’s impossible to have a conversation with someone if you are speaking two completely different languages, and neither of you know the other. Nonetheless, if there’s a Rosetta stone around, then there’s hope that maybe instead of talking at each other without comprehending each other, you’ll be able to finally see eye to eye and understand each other. To stretch my mixing of analogies even further – just because you’re from Mars and he’s from Venus doesn’t mean you aren’t both residing in the same galaxy.