Binary Communication

My husband is a true high tech geek. He graduated from the tech mecca of MIT and he has a true passion for app development. He’s a genius when it comes to integrating information and operations into a user friendly management system. He has the language of 1s and 0s down pat.

If you’ve been reading my blog at all, you know my communication style. I tell stories and ask questions. Faith and life are all about the gray spaces of life. For me, 1s and 0s are too dogmatic and constricting. You can understand why I call him Saint Sam. He is fully tested whenever we must communicate.

Not long after we were married, I started referring to him as Saint Sam. My grayness does exasperate his black and whiteness. He’s not a man of a lot of words, but will engage in conversation when drawn in. Then again, getting people to talk and open up is my specialty. I’ve learned to watch for the telltale signs when I’m talking. He’ll ask me an open ended question and then glaze over as I answer. As a good communicator, he knows to ask open ened questions. But he really processes information best, when he asks a yes or no question and gets a yes or no answer.

That’s when I figured it out. Saint Sam has a binary communication style. Ones and zeros have specific functions: on/off and true/false. He’s a master at solving complicated problems and then programming function scenarios. Everything must be reduced to either a 1 or a 0 in order to complete the function. It can never not be a 1 or 0.

If he asks: Does God exist? He is expecting a yes or no answer. He’s not expecting my response: Are you referring to God as a personal being or transcendant? Are you talking about the concept of God from a Judeo-Christian perspective or from a more polytheistic perspective? If he’s prepared for textured response, we can move through whatever we’re discussing. If he’s really expecting a yes or no, true or false answer, we’re in for a long slog through communication hell.

We have found a great solution for those times when we have to get through a dense topic: 20 questions. I love it because the onus of asking a yes or no question to get the information he needs from me is on him. Actually, I think it’s much easier for him to think up a yes-or-no question than it is for me to only answer yes-or-no. The main thing is we have an effective way for Sam to get the information he needs from me.

I also have a much greater appreciation for how difficult it is to be binary … although I still don’t get it why someone would want to be so constrained! (smile)

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