The Art of Communicating

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Communicating is an art. It can be learned, but some people are better at it than others. You might even say for some it’s a gift.

My family is Italian and when we speak to each other it’s usually very loud. It’s easy to mistake what we’re doing as yelling. We’re not yelling, but we think if we raise our voices to make our point you’ll agree with us. We’re also stubborn, opinionated, and usually right. I promise you’ll never have more fun than around our Thanksgiving dinner table.  I enjoy sitting back and listening as the sound decibels shake the ceiling. My family has the gift, or not.

Then there’s Nan, my 88 year-old grandmother. Don’t be fooled by her 4’9″ frame. She can be as loud as the best of them. That might be because she can’t hear. I’m not entirely sure her hearing is going, but it might explain what happened when I called her last week to wish her a happy birthday. The conversation went something like this:

Nan: “Hello?”

Me: “Hi, Nan. It’s Stacey.” Mind you she only has two grandchildren I shouldn’t have to identify myself, but I do anyway.

Nan: “Who? Julie? I don’t know anyone with that name.”

Me, louder, because what’s the first thing I do? Yell: “Nan, it’s Stacey.”

Nan: “Who?” She’s an owl in her spare time.

Me, still yelling: “Nan, it’s STAY SEE!” Kind of hard to drag out a two syllable name.

Nan: “I don’t know you.” And she hangs up.

Redial, try again. “Nan, it’s your granddaughter.”

“Oh, Stacey! I thought you were someone trying to play a trick on me.” Yeah, that’s exactly what I was trying to do. Can’t you hear me laughing?

You know how I say you can’t pick your family because if we could we’d all pick Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward for parents or Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause? If we could choose we’d avoid conversations that go like this:

Nan: “Your son is smart because he’s Jewish.”

Me: “What about me, Nan. Aren’t I smart?”

Nan: “You’re sweet.”

The art of communicating.



3 thoughts on “The Art of Communicating

  1. Italians–or maybe older ladies of European descent–seem to be of the belief that we are entitled to their opinion. I’ll never forget a BBQ I went to when my stepsons were 8, 10 and 14. My cousins mother-in-law (of Portuguese descent) greeted the middle guy with, “You got fat!”

    Feelings? Self-esteem? What are those, anyway?

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