A few tips for better communication with your travel partner.
By Dave Block, F312358
Everyone would agree that good communication is an essential part of RVing. Technology has now made it possible for us to surround ourselves with cell phones, e-mail, satellite dishes, and many other electronic devices so we can stay in touch with the world from which we are trying to escape. However, this is not the kind of communication I’m talking about. I’m referring to personal, one-on-one communication with your partner.
Under normal circumstances this can be a difficult task, but in a motorhome it can be downright impossible. Here’s an example of how easily a simple exchange can go awry.
“Morning,” I said as I stepped from the shower.
“Morning “” olive oil,” my wife, Pat, yawned as she made her way from the bedroom toward the coffeepot.
Olive oil? I thought hard. This must mean something “” something I’m supposed to do, or didn’t do. Maybe it’s something she wants or needs. Olive oil? Perhaps it’s some sort of code. Olive oil. I don’t have a clue “” she must be losing her mind. Just forget it. No, it might be important, and then I would be in trouble. I finished toweling off and braced for her answer. “Olive oil,” I said. “What does that mean?”
She turned, coffee cup in hand, with a look of disgusted amazement on her face and said in a clear, concise voice, “I said, ‘MAN, IT’S COLD.'” At that particular moment, the brisk chill of the morning air in the motorhome seemed tropical compared to her deep-freeze stare. The conversation, of course, ended with the usual, “You just don’t pay attention to me.” After 39 years of marriage, I don’t understand why she says that.
If only Pat would have said “Morning” and saved the “Man, it’s cold” until my ears weren’t full of water. But, given the closeness of our surroundings in the motorhome, she thinks I should be able to hear everything she says. Admittedly, my hearing isn’t quite what it used to be, especially within the frequency range of Pat’s voice; regardless, it doesn’t help if I can’t hear when she talks to me.
It was obvious that if we wanted to continue living together in such closeness, we would need some guidelines. Through trial and error, here are a few we have created:
* Limit or eliminate conversation with anyone in the bathroom. Even though you are a couple of feet away, the occupant may have water in his or her ears or is probably concentrating on the task at hand.
* Don’t talk into drawers, cupboards, or closets. Kitchen utensils and clothes can’t hear, but do absorb and distort words at an alarming rate. The person who you think should be able to hear you really can’t.
* Kick it up a notch when traveling. A soft, endearing voice is no match for road and engine noise. Speak up and save those sweet little nothings for the sundowners, when they can be heard and will produce far more pleasant results.
* Never talk to your map or to the window beside you.
* Never ever talk to someone when they are bent over searching for something in the basement storage compartments. In this position, their rear end is higher than their head. A person’s posterior is not designed for listening. Their head, which is designed for listening, is full of blood and is not capable of hearing, or the least bit receptive to conversation at the time.
* Talking to the back of someone’s head will normally get the same results as talking to their behind. Looking at the back of a person’s head means they are leaving and you have already lost their attention.
* Last on the list is communicating with one another while backing the motorhome. Two-way radios are very helpful for this task, but remember to press the talk button before you speak, and hold it down until after you stop speaking. This will allow your voice transmission to include the key word: “STOP!” Hand signals are a good way to reinforce what you are saying. Just make sure they don’t become hand gestures.
During our RV travels Pat and I have worked at developing and refining our communication skills, and as they have improved, our enjoyment of motorhoming has increased. Even with our guidelines, we still have our “times,” but they are fewer and farther apart. And now that I can hear more of what she’s saying, I am getting better at paying attention.