Author Topic: Communicating / corresponding problem: "irresistible force and immovable object"  (Read 4031 times)

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cabbageweevil

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I’m in the UK;  have a friend (will call him Thad) who spends most of his time in a country at the far end of the European continent.  Communication between us is, essentially, just “general chat”; options for it are limited – in part because of “functional” considerations, in part because of personal preferences.  Ordinary straightforward telephoning, and snail-mail, are not practicable.  E-mail, and Skype, are.  Unfortunately, though -- he favours communicating by Skype, and hates doing so by e-mail; whereas  I’m the other way around – greatly prefer e-mail, and hate Skype and everything about it (I don’t enjoy communicating by phone at all, if there is any alternative).  I am basically equipped for Skype, only because of a certain amount of browbeating of me into same, by Thad.  In fact, I – one heck of a technophobe -- have difficulty figuring out the practicalities of Skype use.  Thad and I have lately come to a bit of a “flash-point” about this problem.

I feel that to some extent, I frequent eHell under false pretenses:  I’m not a passionate devotee or student of etiquette, and follow the site largely for entertainment, and for the endless human-interest material that it offers.  Thad is not an etiquette maven as such, either.  I would consider, though, that both of us essentially wish to live our lives in a way that is polite, and considerate of others – at least, when we don’t find  the personal cost of doing so, too high.

With us faced with this awkward “preferences” situation in which it seems that one or other of us is going to be miserable:  I’d be interested in any ideas about an etiquette-approved way of addressing the matter.  And, going on to hypothesise scenarios -- supposing that one or both of us actually were enthusiasts for, or keen followers of, etiquette:  what might be the appropriate course to take, etiquette-wise, with those variables applying?  Any suggestions would be gratefully received.


camlan

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It might be more of a schoolyard type solution, rather than an etiquette one, but I'd suggest alternating the modes of communication. Email one week, Skype the next. Or one communication is email, the next is Skype--but I have a suspicion that would be difficult to keep track of.

Or, the person initiating the contact uses their favored mode of communication. Or they use the other person's favored mode.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that in a situation like this, it shouldn't be only email or only Skype, because then one person is going to be unhappy all the time. The two of you should be able to come to an agreement that both methods are used, in proportions that you both can live with.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Another Sarah

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My first reaction is why does it have to be one or the other?
It sounds like you are both pretty reasonable people, so I don't see why this couldn't be resolved with a compromise - why not mail during the week and arrange to skype at the weekends? or you could email him all your news and he could skype you back for a chat - if you're anything like me, the forced conversation for fear of just sitting there in silence makes your brain freeze, so make the majority of the chat his responsibility.

m2kbug

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How often do you communicate?  Daily, weekly?  What if you agree to talk on Skype once a week (or every other week?  Twice a week?) and email the rest of the time.  Whatever you are discussing in email you can talk about on Skype.  I would prefer phone just because I can walk around and take care of some chores while talking rather than being stuck at the computer.  Is phone that unreasonable?  I'm sure you can find a happy medium.  If he wants to Skype daily, perhaps drop the frequency to a couple times a week and email the rest of the time. 

Bast

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Maybe find a happy medium?  Like previous posters have said, alternate methods of communication, or set up specific dates and times for Skype.

Another option that provides Thad with the real-time conversation and you with the text medium is using Skype as a instant messenger program.  No voice communication required which will make you more comfortable, but it's still that instantaneous communication that he's probably a touch more comfortable with.
"They may forget your name but they will never forget how you made them feel." ~Maya Angelou

Lynn2000

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I've been in similar situations. I've had friends who were really good about keeping up relationships in person, but when they moved away, they just didn't put the effort into it, even though they said they wanted to. Or, their preferred method or timing is different from mine, and it can become a pain to coordinate.

I personally really like email and am good at keeping up with people that way, but others don't like it as well. I have one friend who calls me to chat, and I email her. It seems to work out okay. I feel like she's putting in effort, anyway. I don't like it when I feel like I'm the one reaching out all the time, and not getting much response--in those cases, when the other person hasn't shown they want to put any effort in by ANY method, I usually end up drastically reducing the scope of the friendship.

So I guess if Thad is still interested in communicating with you, that seems to be a good sign. There's no reason it has to be all one method or the other, though. Maybe you could email him a couple times during the week, and then when you Skype on the weekend, he can react to what you emailed, and talk about his own stuff. That would be a fair compromise on your part. Now, if he starts saying that he didn't read your emails and ONLY wants to do Skype, that would be him being a bit rude, I think. You should both be willing to meet the other halfway.
~Lynn2000

cabbageweevil

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I guess what I'm trying to say is that in a situation like this, it shouldn't be only email or only Skype, because then one person is going to be unhappy all the time. The two of you should be able to come to an agreement that both methods are used, in proportions that you both can live with.

And Lynn2000 writes: "You should both be willing to meet the other halfway".


We should; but, bottom line, sadly it rather seems “not so”.  When “together in person”, he’s as a rule kind and generous, and good company, and an excellent guy;  but he’s one of those people with whom basically, things have to go their way.

A compromise by alternating communication modes – suggested by several PPs – is something which I have thought of;  but with this guy, I do not think it would work. He considers himself to be very busy in assorted important roles, without time to waste in any sort of elaborate messing-around:  which is how he would regard working out a communication compromise of “sometimes my way, sometimes his”.  It virtually has to be “his way or hardly at all” – if I e-mail him, he sometimes responds by e-mail, but rather more often, doesn’t.  (We don’t, overall, communicate with great frequency:  even when things were working fairly well, it was just every month, or couple of months.)

Bast, thank you for your idea of Skype as an instant messenger program – which I didn’t know was a possibility (am essentially clueless about e-communications – felt distinctly pleased with myself for mastering e-mail !).  On past form, though, I feel that Thad would not be willing to switch to handling things that way – he would again, regard it as messing-around which he can’t be doing with (and I’d have to learn the technique, probably from a friend or relative “this end” – Thad would for sure, not be willing to teach me long-distance).  Over these particular matters (not in everything in life), he is, to put things bluntly, pretty selfish.  I realise that I’m selfish also, in being so unwilling to struggle with “phone Skype” – which I do find hard to handle, in practical terms.

Am aware that he and I should be beyond power games and school-kid “x, or y, started it” – so, effectively: it looks as though, if I don’t want the correspondence to dwindle to little or nothing, I’ll need to be the one who submits; and “bites the bullet” and finds a way to cope with, and routinely use, “phone Skype”.  Anyway, thanks to all for thoughts and suggestions.


Lynn2000

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It sounds like you both have issues with finding new ways to do things--technological difficulties, time constraints, etc.. Which is totally legitimate. What's not cool is one person always being the one to capitulate, and do more work so the other person doesn't have to.

If you want to give him another chance, I suggest you pick a new tool, like instant messaging, and get comfortable with it yourself--practice it with other friends. Then suggest it to Thad as something with features both of you would like. If necessary, remind him you had to learn Skype at his insistence, and you don't have infinite time any more than he does.

If he's not willing to compromise a little--it wouldn't have to be IM, it could be email sometimes, or something else you prefer--I think I would confine the friendship to times we were able to physically get together. As I said I've known some people who were great friends in person but incapable of maintaining long-distance friendships, and I started to resent the fact that I was putting all the effort into communicating with them. Better to drop a friendship down a few notches, in my opinion, than to keep it "high" but always resent the person.
~Lynn2000

cabbageweevil

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If you want to give him another chance, I suggest you pick a new tool, like instant messaging, and get comfortable with it yourself--practice it with other friends. Then suggest it to Thad as something with features both of you would like. If necessary, remind him you had to learn Skype at his insistence, and you don't have infinite time any more than he does.

Lynn2000 – second paragraph (as quoted) of your last:  I don’t see it working, I fear.  Thad would strongly resist changing to any new procedure, and reminding him of the things you suggest, would cut no ice:  his attitude would be, I’m sure, “my way or the highway”.

I’m ready to admit that objectively, his life is busier than mine; but I feel that people who are considerate “across the board”, are reluctant to use such factors to bulldoze others.  He’s an excellent guy in many respects – in this one, though, he’s selfish (I’m not implying that I am pure-white blameless in this matter, either).  I’d reckon that you are right – the friendship will probably have to be dropped as many notches as prove necessary.

I confess to having, a little bit, made my OP in something of a “venting” frame of mind: Thad and I had a minor face-off the other day.  The Skype “flag” appeared on my computer screen, with from him, the words “Hi – long time no speak” or the equivalent.  I really felt just then, totally not like trying to get things in line for, and have, a Skype phone conversation.  In the following hours I composed and sent to him an e-mail message – giving him latest news, enquiring after “him and his”, and making mention of the unfortunate fact of each of us loathing the mode of communication which the other much prefers !  No response of any kind from him, as of now.

I couched my OP in etiquette-ish and advice-seeking terms;  well, I did genuinely have in mind – though thinking it unlikely, in this fairly intractable situation  – that some ingenious idea might be floated, which hadn’t occurred to me, and which could work !  Thanks again, truly, to all posters; though it seems improbable that there’s any satisfactory-to-all solution to this, admittedly highly “First-World”, problem.


Lynn2000

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Oh, I don't know, I think it sounds pretty universal--friendship is supposed to be give and take, and here you have one person taking all the time while the other person always has to give. In person you say he's great, but if he lives that far away and you only communicate long-distance every month or two, I'm guessing you actually see him in person even less, like maybe once or twice a year. Honestly I might just take the friendship down to "getting together in person once or twice a year" and enjoy that time with him, and then I wouldn't be resentful during the other times when I was struggling to communicate on his terms and his terms only. He sounds kind of selfish to me in that respect and I would rather cut that out of my life, personally, and make him a six-months-only-in-person friend.

I've posted before about my friend Joan, who lives on the other side of the country now. We were really close when we were roommates for years, but once she moved away, I felt like I was making all the effort to keep in contact. I would send three detailed emails about my news and get back one from her, a skimpy paragraph that always began, "Sorry I've been such a bad friend..." Stop apologizing and do something to fix it, was my opinion. Or, drop that label of "friend" down a few notches. I ended up doing the latter because I, personally, was not enjoying trying to maintain the friendship, and I never heard a word of protest from her about it. Now we have contact maybe once or twice a year.

I just had lunch with her when she came through town for the holidays and it was so great to chat with her. It made me a bit sad as I think she's a great person and we could have a good friendship, I think, if she would work on her end to maintain it long-distance, but I don't think it's a priority with her. I admit I did just send her a nice email today, to see if now, after a few years of little contact, she might be interested in reciprocating once again. I'm not getting my hopes up, though. If she said she'd love to keep up but could she call me instead, or IM, okay, I would consider that compromise and try to keep up my end for a while. But I'm at a point in my life where I'm just not going to do all the heavy lifting in a friendship, I don't need or want that extra stress/drama.
~Lynn2000

Eeep!

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I personally find it a little odd that he uses being busy as his reason for wanting to Skype.  Out of all the many forms of communication, Skype seems like the one that would be most complicated as you have to make sure that someone is actually at their computer so that you can connect. Whereas with email you can respond at any time.  Even with chat, there are ways that you can do that using a smart phone so you don't have to be physically at your computer.
I too am not a big fan of talking on the phone so that may be coloring my response but I also think Skyping is kind of awkward a lot of the time.  Like you kind of are "on". But then, I suppose if you do it a lot it might not seem that way anymore?

As to how to solve this problem? Could you tell him that you too are super busy and are only on your computer a limited amount of time so it would be best if you can email in between some sort of Skype schedule?
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

shhh its me

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   I don't think he is completely wrong or selfish.  Communication through type vs voice is really different. Some people are much better and more comfortable in one or the other form.  I'd make the comparison of asking someone to speak in their second language all the time. 


You can type in skype the other person does not have to be on line. You don't have to display to other people as being on line.   

Skype may be a good compromise because you can type and he can call real quick when he feels like only voice will work.

cabbageweevil

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Lyn2000 -- have to agree: I'm likewise at a point in my life (age 65) where doing all the heavy lifting in a friendship, for sure doesn't appeal.  Like you with Joan -- friendship me / Thad, I feel probably on the way out.

I personally find it a little odd that he uses being busy as his reason for wanting to Skype.  Out of all the many forms of communication, Skype seems like the one that would be most complicated as you have to make sure that someone is actually at their computer so that you can connect. Whereas with email you can respond at any time.  Even with chat, there are ways that you can do that using a smart phone so you don't have to be physically at your computer.

Getting rather flippant, and taking some risk of offending people: Thad is Anglo-Polish, the child of Poles who sought refuge in the UK post-World War II, and became British citizens. After the fall of Communism, he went to live in Poland, where he now spends some five-sixths of the year, with brief visits a few times a year, to UK. It's a stereotype held by many other nationalities, that Poles are weird, and rather impervious to logic and common sense. No offense meant to anyone on eHell who is Polish or of Polish extraction -- and I love Poland and the Poles -- but as regards this guy, I do sometimes wonder...

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I too am not a big fan of talking on the phone so that may be coloring my response but I also think Skyping is kind of awkward a lot of the time.  Like you kind of are "on". But then, I suppose if you do it a lot it might not seem that way anymore?

As to how to solve this problem? Could you tell him that you too are super busy and are only on your computer a limited amount of time so it would be best if you can email in between some sort of Skype schedule?

I really do feel, no use telling him anything -- it has to be what's convenient for him, no-one else's convenience matters to him in the slightest.  He isn't deliberately and consciously selfish and callous -- just, he feels that his doings are so vital and important, that mere communicating with associates is trivial in comparison, and etc. ...  He makes brief visits to the UK a few times a year, but he's too busy in those, to make any attempt to contact me re getting together -- if he even has my UK phone number -- I should just recognise that I've come to be of minimal importance to this chap, and act accordingly.  We share a strong interest in a hobby / avocation, which first brought us together; but even that doesn't cause him to do any getting-in-touch with me, if not totally on his terms.  People are people, and certainly not angels...

shhh its me: alas, my comprehension of the intricacies of Skype, is poor -- and getting "tutors" re same, would be a problem. I didn't even know that you could type in Skype... Perhaps I should just go back to 1914, end-of  ;) ! -- except that then I'd be suffering misery with newfangled telephones and telegrams -- and as for wireless telegraphy...

shhh its me

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  IF you've installed it and can open it , I can probably get you though to typing messages. 

cabbageweevil

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  IF you've installed it and can open it , I can probably get you though to typing messages.

A very kind offer, and my thanks to you; but I am a very stupid and un-apt pupil, as regards anything to do with IT.  Would feel loath to put at risk, the good (cyber)-relations which we have !  I'd feel inclined anyhow, to leave it until further contact with Thad (if any), to see how willing he might be -- or not -- to engage in or with, "typed Skype".