“Geh’ weida, Oida”

Scenario: A warm early summer evening. I am going for an evening walk in Vienna with my wife and our dog. On the way back, we have to cross the “Gürtel”. It’s rush hour on the street, there are always traffic jams, and drivers who “couldn’t make it” when the light turned green are blocking the crossings or pedestrian crossings. When we get the green light, a car blocks the pedestrian crossing directly in front of us. We have to swerve out of the way, walk around the front of the vehicle, and as we pass, I look inside. Ten metres later, I hear a male voice behind me shouting from inside the car: “Geh, weida, Oida! * (*very colloquial phrase for hurry up!)

Apart from the fact that, although spoken at my back, I immediately referred to this request, I walked on unperturbed. I asked my wife: “Was that a friendly request to move on or what? Should I go back to ask? What do you think will happen then?” My spouse replied, “Well, I didn’t perceive it as friendly, more like ‘sneak’.” I picked up the thread: “So you mean he reacts like that because he feels that by looking at him, I have made him aware that he has done something wrong and thus hindered others?”

So much for the scenario. Let’s take a Schulz von Thun approach to communication (assumptions apply, of course):

“Geh weida, Oida!”

Possible transmitter ears:

Factual level: “Move on!” (purely objective: “Move away from my car!”)

Appeal level: “Make sure you win land! (In the sense of: “Get lost!”).

Self-revelation: “I’ve already had a sh… day, and now he looks stupid too!

Relationship: “Do you have a problem with me?”

I heard it spontaneously in the factual ear: My wife, our dog, and I just walked on.

I could have heard it on the relationship level and returned to “solve” that problem.

On the self-revelation level, I could have gone back to ask how the car driver was doing and why he reacted the way he did.

At the same time, all levels except the factual ear would most likely have led to a confrontation.

  • I listen once on the factual ear: first, receive the pure information.
  • This protects me from immediately taking a statement personally (unless it is a concrete verbal attack or insult).
  • In the sense of an appeal, I do not immediately feel obliged to do something. If someone specifically asks me to do something, I am happy to comply with the request as far as possible.
  • And ultimately, what the sender says always says a lot about their feelings.

We should pay more attention to the ear for self-disclosure in our communication and try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes before we take it personally again tomorrow that the neighbour does not return our friendly greeting. 

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