A One Trick Pony

Ok you have knowledge of your love language and you have knowledge of your loved one’s love language.

Where do you go now?

Yesterday the discussion was about how a person with a “comfortable” sense of self will have an easier time meeting the needs of others.

Today, we will discuss the person who has the ability to exhibit a wide range of communication behaviors vs the person who has a limited repertoire of behaviors [maybe a one trick pony, so to speak].

Why is this important?

People who can choose between a larger range of responses to others can communicate better.


Why do I bring this up?  People who take interpersonal communication seriously [that should be all of us] report that the best communicators one-to-one are people who can make choices about their communication depending on the situation they are in.

Poor communicators say the same things over and over, never varying their responses.

When you have a larger variety of responses at your disposal, you can pick from your repertoire the response that has the best chance of success.

Let me give you an example.  You are married to a person who has a “love tank” that you can fill with acts of service.   You know they want you to clean out the garage so they can pull their car in [they want to work on the exterior of the car].  They have stated this and given you several polite hints.

Your love language is words of affirmation.

How can you respond to your spouse?

1.  “I will do that.  You are a lovely wife.  I appreciate you.”

2.  You ignore the request, hoping she will see that you are busy with your own projects.

3.  You joke about it, saying ‘I am a slob. You should have married a neater guy.

4.  You give her a big hug.

5.  You can see she is irritated and later in the day, you go to the corner market and get her an ice cream bar.

6.  Later in the day, you take her on a picnic and then you go to a movie together.

7.  You start working on the garage and get it cleaned out by the end of the day.

Here are seven responses that may work and they may not.

However this is not “rocket science;”  you know the one that will work best.  The wife is an “acts of service” person so only number seven will work for her.

The first response might work with a person who responds to words of affirmation so keep it in your tool box, but it won’t work for your wife. She will think it is “all talk.”   Number two is going to infuriate the wife if you do it more than once.  It is a response but you have to be in an emergency for people to forgive you for this one.  Joking about the situation is a little better than no response but an “acts of service wife” will not appreciate it.  A big hug is a total waste.  She does not respond to physical touch and that is meaningless.  Getting her a gift if just a distraction and she is wise; she knows that and won’t appreciate your gift.  Quality time is a nice idea but again [like the gift] it won’t do the trick.  It will only distract.

Number seven is the only one that will work.

Acts of Service people are big believers in “show me.”  If you love me “show me” how much you love me by doing something for me.

In a recent newsletter sent to my email box, Dr. Chapman gives some examples of acts of service that can give you insight about this person’s love language needs:  “Today is all about noticing [for the person trying to fill the love tank of an acts of service spouse.  Take notice of some things that may be small irritations to your spouse. Maybe it’s the trash that needs to be taken out, the stain on the carpet or couch, the stack of papers that needs to be organized, the unmade bed, or the overflowing junk drawer. Whatever it is, take the initiative. Acts of Service are intentional.”

Don’t get me wrong, the six responses above can work but not with her.  They may be effective tools to leave in your communication toolbox but they are not the correct tool to use in this situation.

From one of my favorite books entitled Looking Out Looking In by Ronald Adler and Russell Proctor, they say it best: “Like a piano player who only knows one tune or a chef who can prepare only a few dishes, these people [who have few choices] are forced to rely on a small range of responses again and again, whether or not they are successful.”

It is good to have a wide range of behaviors and when you know which response will work, go ahead and choose it.  Options are nice, but is tough to live the life of the “one trick pony.”

Guess what; it is also tough to be married to the “one trick pony.”

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