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Talking under the pillow Talking under the pillow
by Joseph Gatt
2019-10-23 07:29:02
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Given my previous articles, I think you now understand the gist of the difference between militarized talk, rapport talk and report talk.

So in this article, I will give a few examples and very brief descriptions of conversations between militarized couples, rapport talkers, report talkers and cross-cultural communication.

Militarized couple

pillow001_400A Korean couple is having a conversation.

Husband: Did you talk to the child's teacher?
Wife: yea
Husband: What did the teacher say?
Wife: he should do more effort.
Husband: What were his teacher's exact words?
Wife: His teacher says he doesn't listen...
Husband: no, no, no. Pretend you are the teacher. I am you and you are the teacher. How did the teacher talk.
Wife: His teacher says he has a lot of potential and he showed efforts sometimes but he needs to make efforts all the time.
Husband: What were his teacher's exact words?
Wife: Did you call your brother?
Husband: I told him to come fix the leak.
Wife: What did he say?
Husband: he'll come do it.
Wife: what were his exact words?
Husband: Look at that game on TV! Manchester United just scored a goal.
Wife: Give me the car keys.
Husband: … (Gives the keys)
Wife; tomorrow when you take the subway, get me some ginger and tofu at the market near Gireum station.

Notice how a lot of details are left out. The wife does not tell the husband why she needs to car keys, the husband does not specify when his brother will come fix the leak, the wife does not specify quantities for ginger and tofu, and a lot of the wording is vague. Most conversation involves giving orders.

Now Maria is a Japanese woman married to Mike, an American man.

Japanese wife: Turn on the TV
American husband: Do you know that today I heard there's a possibility I might get a promotion if I can seal the deal properly...
Japanese wife: Put NHK Drama on.
American husband: Sure. Now my boss said he's really proud of me and I might get a 400 dollar raise if I keep getting things done properly
Japanese wife: Bring me watermelon from the fridge
American husband: sure. (Goes to the kitchen) Do you want it carved in cubes or just a piece?
Japanese wife: Do as you wish. Also bring me some lemon juice.
American husband brings the food to the living room.
American husband: Now if I get that raise we should probably start talking about having children.
Japanese wife: Are you taking your Japanese lessons?
American husband: Speaking of that, I wanted to tell you I was considering changing schools, or dropping out and learning Japanese with a friend the casual way.
Japanese wife: Speak to me in Japanese!
American husband: Next year I can promise we'll speak in Japanese. At least I'll try my best. 
Japanese wife: Give me 5,000 Yen.
American husband: sure, what do you need that for?
Japanese wife: Look. The Drama. Oh my God! He cheated on her! She left him! Their poor children!
American husband: I don't really watch dramas but what's up with all this cheating in dramas.
Japanese wife: Hush. Be quiet. Watch!
American husband: Honey, we need to talk.
Japanese wife. Hush! Hush! We will talk tomorrow!

Notice how the Japanese wife keeps giving her American husband orders when the American husband is trying to provide information, background and context. In militarized societies, people rarely plan ahead meticulously and usually improvise the big decisions in life, including having children, career issues or financial issues. Also, in militarized cultures, when someone gives you an order, you don't ask why or for a reason why the order was given.

Rapport talk

As I said in previous articles, in some countries (mainly Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America) when people talk they try to define the relationship between them and the individual they are talking with. This is why they avoid talking in large, crowded groups and prefer talking with a single individual. When with several individuals, they tend to stay shy, often because they don't know how to define the relationship between them and several individuals.

So when a couple talks in rapport talk cultures, the couple is constantly trying to define the relationship between the two individuals, often laying out ground rules, personality traits and “principles” when dealing with the spouse.

So here's a conversation between a couple from a rapport talk culture.

Husband: Honey! You know I love you! You know you mean everything to me!
Wife: Are you saying that because you told me I was pathetic last night?
Husband: Are you the kind of person who constantly draws out old files on people?
Wife: I can't forget those words. You are aggressive with me. I feed you and take care of you. I think you said that because you don't trust me.
Husband: If I didn't trust you I would have married someone else. But be careful how you behave on Facebook. You know that video you uploaded, think about my reputation.
Wife: You are paranoid! It's just a video.
Husband: You see! I came with good intentions and you want to argue. My biggest principle is never to talk to people who like to argue.
Wife: My biggest principle is not to marry a husband who likes to argue.
Husband: So you're telling me you're perfect and I'm imperfect.

You get the idea! This could go on and on. Notice how the couple is constantly discussing the nature of the relationship, rather than discuss, say, news or what they did during the day. Now when couples do discuss what they did during the day, the discussion often inevitably leads to defining the relationship between the couple.

Now to another example. Azadeh is a woman from Iran married to Jack, a Canadian for a change.

Iranian wife: Honey! You're home! I missed you so much!
Canadian husband: Hi! You know the subway broke down and we had to wait for 20 minutes in the dark.
Iranian wife: You are not patient! You are always impatient with me. In life, if you want to succeed, you need patience.
Canadian husband: All I said was that the subway broke down and we were in the dark.
Iranian wife: Are you telling me that I was rude to you? I am never rude! My friend Marjane tells me I'm the most polite person she's ever met. I even greet elderly people!
Canadian husband: Yea. Good. How about we arrange a night out tomorrow night. Just the two of us at the jazz club?
Iranian wife: Are you trying to compensate for being absent all the time? You're never home! Always drinking with your friends!
Canadian husband: We discuss business with my friends. By the way do you know that John and I could set up this new company...
Iranian wife: are you telling me that our children are going to be orphans! You never take me into consideration in any of your decisions!
Canadian husband: Oh Andrew is hiring an assistant. 50,000 a year, easy job, and Andrew's a buddy of mine. Do you want to apply? Or I can tell him...
Iranian wife: Are you telling me I'm only good enough to be an assistant? I have a Master's degree in chemical engineering! Are you implying I'm stupid?
Canadian husband: well if you don't want the job...
Iranian wife: why do you always take decisions for me!

You get the idea! Notice that the Iranian wife is constantly trying to define the relationship with her husband, while the husband is constantly trying to shift the focus away from defining the relationship and into sharing news and information. The Canadian guy gets frustrated that the Iranian wife shows no interest in his stories, while the Iranian wife is frustrated the Canadian guy is not helping her define the relationship.

Report talk

Finally, very quickly, an example of talk between two people from report talk cultures. I won't do cross-cultural examples here, as they are available above.

Husband and wife communicate

Husband: Honey how was your day?
Wife: I was all over the place. You want to hear a story? I was at this Indian restaurant when we ordered vegetarian curry. The nan had butter and garlic on it and you know Jennifer is allergic to garlic. She thought the green stuff was herbs but when she found out it was garlic, we had to call an ambulance. We took her to the hospital and they gave her an allergy shot. Then when we went back to work the guy at the Indian place knew where we worked and had our leftovers delivered to our office. How nice of him. My faith in humanity is restored.
Husband: Awesome! That reminds me of my college days when I used to go to this fish restaurant and I went there so frequently the waitress overheard my address and sent flowers over to my dorm room with a note saying we she meet sometime.
Wife: Ooooooooooh Did you end up meeting her?
Husband: I had no idea who she was so I gave it a shot. I called her and we met. Went on a few dates. Realized we were not meant for each other.
Wife: What happened?
Husband: I think it's the fact that I smoke that threw her off.
Wife: So you married me, a smoker. By the way we should set up a quit date.
Husband: You know my colleague Toby has quit for three months. He hardly ever talks. But now he says he's starting to feel like he never smoked in the first place.
Wife: Sandy and Jane quit last year. The gained a ton of weight. They said quitting smoking gave them the munchies. By the way, you know I discovered. I feel like a scientist now. I discovered this really nice cocktail bar downtown that has 2 dollar cocktails, no strings attached! I think they make money by putting more juice than alcohol though. That way you get to order more. But it's super cozy. How about we go there on Friday night?

You get the idea!

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