In our fridge, there is a nifty compartment in the door that is the exact perfect fit for a carton of one dozen eggs. You can fit a couple extra eggs that perch precariously atop the carton, if the carton is created in a specific way, but there is no room in front of the carton or along the sides. And, if you don’t have a carton for the eggs, they simply roll around in their fragileness, bouncing against one another and the plexiglass door of the compartment.
In our home, it is a known fact that the eggs in the compartment are eggs that are available for all to use and ready to be cooked. If the eggs have been boiled, then they are carefully placed in a bowl on a shelf in the main area of the fridge. Tradition.
The other day, I noticed two eggs in a bowl. I love hard boiled eggs and mused, “Yay! Someone boiled eggs! I think I’ll eat one.” I got distracted – which I am wont to do with all this creative energy I flow – so I forgot the eggs and exited the room without touching the eggs, let alone eating one.
The next day, while I was working, my father came in and said, “I put your eggs in a bowl in the fridge.” And thus began one of the most confusing conversations I’ve had in a long time.
Me: Yes. I saw that. Are they boiled?
Dad: I don’t know.
Me: *feeling confused* Ummmm… You don’t know?
Dad: No. I don’t know if they’re boiled.
Me: Are you the one that put them in the bowl?
Dad: We bought eggs and there were only two left in the other carton so I threw it out.
Me: Okay. And you put the eggs in the bowl?
Dad: Well… with this carton there isn’t enough room to put the eggs on top of it so I put them in a bowl.
Me: So they’re not boiled then?
Dad: I don’t know if they’re boiled or not.
Me: Did you boil them before you put them in the bowl?
Dad: I don’t know if they’re boiled.
Me: *utterly speechless for a few moments* Dad, are you the one that took the eggs out of the carton and put them in the bowl?
Dad: Yes, but I don’t know if they’re boiled.
Me: I get that. Did you boil them before you put them in the bowl?
Dad: No. I just put them in the bowl.
Me: Okay. That’s all I need to know.
The art of communication is a twofold dance comprised of speaking to be understood AND listening to understand. It takes a willingness to reword your questions and statements ad nauseum until you feel understanding and see the dawning comprehension light up the eyes of the other person. Sometimes, that can be infuriating when you understand what you’re wanting to communicate but the other person clearly does not.
One of the things I remind myself in moments similar to this egg talk is that everyone has their own listening filters and even though words have definitions, they can have very different meanings to people based on their life experience, even if they speak in the same native tongue. Compassion, love, patience, and a fabulous sense of humor are great tools for this very thing.
I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments. Feel free to jot down what you’re thinking in the comment box below.