What makes verbal communication so difficult? We start to speak so early, and many of us (I) still struggle with finding the right words decades later. Emotion makes it even tougher to match the words we speak with the thoughts in our heads. The right words at the right time? I would always prefer a page to scribble on.
When we first start to speak, we just repeat what we’ve heard, often with comic results. Later, when we start school, we are told to learn to filter our thoughts before we put them into words. Then, when we are assumed to be grown men, someone inevitably says, “Why can’t you just tell me what your feeling?”
Every guy I know has heard, “Why would you even say that? What are you laughing about? I guess “I’m sorry” would just be out of the question. So you think it’s better just to try and change the subject, nice try. Are you going to say anything at all? Are you trying to make it impossible for me to talk to you?”
Maybe it would help if I offered some insight into guy speak. Please use this information as a guide and postmortem diagnostic tool for conversations gone wrong. I believe there are only five kinds of conversations in use by guys today.
- Bullspeak – most of what guys say to each other, and frankly, to anyone else as well; may include jokes, sports references, complaints, theories on automotive superiority, self deprecating descriptions of any recent mini-disaster, anecdotes about exploits of our youth (the more distant the reference, the more creative license allowed)
- Workspeak – informational exchanges about tasks; tasks that may have been done but not exactly as hoped for, tasks that have been forgotten, tasks requested but completely ignored. If a task is done successfully, no conversation is required. Most common exception to this is, “What do you want, a medal? Congrats Einstein, I’m sure you’ll screw it up next time.”
- Salespeak – words used to persuade; may occur during attempted cash transactions, job interviews, dating, hostage negotiations, and all political diatribes, whether amateur or professional. These communications are often sprinkled with small doses of factual information, just for flavor.
- Panicspeak – random noises, words or silences used to respond in crisis situations; may occur during descriptions of relationships, after disappointing social interactions with in-laws, near death experiences, loss of parking lot orientation (I swear to God, some bastard has stolen my Mitsubishi … I bought it six years ago, why do you ask?). Of course, any seemingly inappropriate laughter may also be attributed to this phenomena.
- Smoochyspeak – words used to express a singular state of happiness and affection; often include phrases like, “baby, you know, mumble mumble, you just, I can’t believe, I’m just so glad, … good night”.