Have you ever heard the phrase “I don’t know”, come out of the mouth of a teen or a middle aged man? What feelings does it generate? Does it make you feel angry to hear that? Or do you feel bored and discouraged that a conversation went nowhere?

COmmunication is not about the words we use, but about the interesting topics that will motivate our mates, friends and children to act, react or plain respond. When a person asks for feedback it may be an opinion or a request. “I don’t know” and silence can be seen as a refusal or being ignored. But what if “I don’t know” means I am content with how things are? What if I don’t know means, I am afraid to change and don’t want to talk about your plan?

Sometimes people are too scared to openly admit fear of change. But we all dislike it to one degree. How do get someone to agree to what to eat for dinner?  Start with offering the choices that will get an unambiguous NO or YES, if it is the difference between liver or fried chicken, most people will vehemently refuse liver. After you know what someone definitely doesn’t want offer a second choice.

Then there are other more serious decisions such as vacations, home improvements or whether or not to visit the in-laws. Requests like these sometimes are met with the same lackluster “I don’t know” response. In these situations, go with history data such as there were two Christmases; where you did one thing and now it is the opportunity to do something else. Another tactic would be to offer timeline for a decision to see if someone needs to mull it over in his or her mind. At the end of several days revisit the subject. If there is no change you have choice to do it your way or not do it at all.

It may seem that one partner sacrifices more than the other. This is partially true. What is unequivocally true though is this: men and women have different priorities, but love for each other and love for yourself also means letting go of a losing battle.

Come talk to me.