If you’re ever locked out of your RV, start talking to your lock, calmly and clearly. After all, good communication is the key! Yes, this old joke qualifies as a “groaner,” but communicating clearly and calmly are very important while RVing. Everything you consider—from where to travel, when to go, and what activities to do—all are important details to discuss with your travel buddy. As we all know, discussions can go two very different ways. They can end in arguments and hurt feelings. Or discussions can include different points of view that eventually lead to one agreed-upon result where everyone is satisfied.
For effective communication, it’s important to have the right tools. Personally, I love my sledgehammer. It shortens annoying conversations quickly. Another groaner. Sorry! The truth is that there are specific communication tools that can help you and your travel partner have productive discussions. Good communication can mean a more satisfying RV life together. Really!
Here are a few communication tips that I’ve found to be helpful:
Timing is important. Hubby knows not to bring up difficult discussions when I’m fatigued. I know that he may need time to think about his point of view before we talk together. Try to find that “just right time” to talk with your travel buddy. Set a day/time so that both participants have time to formulate their ideas.
Avoid talking when someone is upset or emotional. If a discussion can’t wait, take just a minute to calm yourself before you talk together. Take a quick walk. Do some deep breathing (in through the nose and out through the mouth). Stop thinking that there are “winners” and “losers” in your discussions. It’s not a contest. The goal is to have satisfaction for both/all participants—as much as possible, that is.
Use “I statements.” Instead of saying, “You always go fishing and I’m left behind!” say, “I feel lonely when you’re off fishing.” An “I statement” usually begins with the word, “I” and is followed by a feeling or emotion. The idea is to state your personal feelings about a topic rather than assign blame or make accusations.
Actively listen. A wise man once said nothing. He just listened. Okay, I know! But the old joke is so true. And applicable! Many times, we are so busy thinking of how we’ll reply that we fail to listen. As we work to formulate our rebuttal, it’s almost impossible to understand what’s being said. If your travel buddy is talking to you, it’s your responsibility to really listen.
Respond thoughtfully. One good way to know if you’re communicating clearly and truly hearing what your RV partner is saying is to repeat his/her words back. Not word for word, but rephrased in a way that shows you’ve understood. In the previous example, for instance, you may respond to the “I statement” with: “So, you’re saying you get lonesome when I’m fishing?” The technique of “checking in” with what’s been said can often clarify feelings and avoid miscommunication. By rephrasing what your travel buddy said, s/he can be sure you are listening and correctly understanding. When your partner responds to your words, you can know that you’ve communicated what you intended.
Compromise. Healthy relationships are no joke. They take serious work. In many relationships, one person is dominant and the other usually sacrifices or gives in. Compromise is not the same as sacrifice. To compromise means that a satisfactory resolution has been reached by both parties. So, for the fishing scenario, both people might come up with a list of possibilities and then choose the one solution that works best for both. For example, maybe the non-fisher takes a book or portable hobby along. S/he reads or bird watches as the travel buddy enjoys fishing.
While negotiating a compromise, it’s important to remember that your goal is to reach a satisfactory resolution. There are no “winners” or “losers” unless the compromising exercise fails. Take a break and try another time to work toward a solution.
Revisit and redo, if necessary. This is an important final step. Talk about the negotiated resolution afterward and discuss ways to improve upon it. Every successful compromise will build confidence to tackle the next issue. And there will be a next issue. Living in a confined space demands clear and open communication. Once you’ve mastered it, the roads you travel will be that much smoother and bring everyone much greater joy.
Chat with me and other RVers about this over in my forum.