Leaky Pipes, the F-Bomb, and Better Communication

//Leaky Pipes, the F-Bomb, and Better Communication

Leaky Pipes, the F-Bomb, and Better Communication

Better CommunicationTwenty-four years ago, my husband and I took on a problem we never saw coming.

Acidic well water.  In a house without a water treatment system.  How were we to know that the refreshing water in our new home came from a highly acidic aquifer?

We didn’t. So we enjoyed years and years of lovely well water until…

A pipe leaks.

Like a silent enemy, acidic water wore away our copper pipes – from the inside out.  Pin-sized leaks began to appear every few months, and we had plumbers on speed dial.  Until fortune smiled upon our home – and my husband’s friend taught the creative lawyer how to repair copper pipes without a soldering iron.

Whenever a new leak appeared, I called my husband, and began to triage with funnels, rubber tubes, and buckets until he arrived.  Yet when he walked in the door, I honestly never felt the same assurance that Mr. Plumber’s presence had evoked.

You see, my husband conducted plumbing repairs while cursing like a sailor.  And he didn’t mumble under this breath.

The F-Bomb is dropped?

So one day, I was home alone with a leak downstairs.  The kids were in school, and my husband was in court.  I stemmed the leak as best I could and patiently waited for my knight in shining armor to arrive.

He entered house, discarded coat and tie, and began to man handle the leak downstairs while I endeavored to read and not worry upstairs.

Soon, creative strings of profanity filled the house.  I became really ticked off when one refrain was repeated over and over, rising in pitch with each repetition: “*uck-it! *uck-it! *uck-it!”

How many times had the f-bomb been dropped in my house? Too many to count. I had once augmented pocket change by charging $5 for every f-word uttered.  Staggering totals made that project short-lived.

So I had learned to ignore the word so offensive to my genteel sensibilities.  And ignoring it I was on that day in question.  Sitting upstairs feeling high and mighty, waiting for my husband to finish growing up downstairs.

Until he raised his voice and distinctly called out, “Gina, I need a BUCKET!”  I high tailed it down the stairs to see my husband soaked, and water spraying out furiously.

A principle of better communication is revealed.

I had made a wrong assumption. I heard “*uck-it! *uck-it! *uck-it!” when my husband was yelling “Bucket! Bucket! Bucket!”   I had reacted in the present moment based purely on our past history.

Now that I think about it, that’s what many of us do with communication.  We don’t really listen with curiousity to hear what our partners are saying.  They speak and we start assuming.  But often the speaker’s intention and the hearer’s understanding are as far apart in meaning as “*uck-it” is from “bucket”.

So how do we avoid this common comunication error? We have to check our assumptions, to see if our understanding is correct. We have to listen to our partners with greater curiousity and much less judgment.

If I could relive my plumbing scenario, I might have asked my husband, “How’s it going right now” and he could have said, “Not good! I need a bucket ASAP!”   He , and our basement, would have gotten less wet.

Leaky pipes and the f-bomb-that-wasn’t reminded me to enage my husband with curiosity, and to check the accuracy of my assumptions and understanding.   I find that it makes for better communication.

Now over to you: Do you think assumptions get in the way of effective communication?  How do you check the accuracy of your understanding?  Speak your mind below! 



By |2017-12-17T15:07:51+00:00April 30th, 2014|Categories: Relationships|Tags: |20 Comments

About the Author:

I'm an LPC who delights in helping people find the change they need to live the life they desire.


  1. Beverley Golden April 30, 2014 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    Great post Gina! I do see how so many people bring past experiences into the present moment and situations and make assumptions that are not based in present day facts. I’ve learned that unless you leave the past in the past, you keep bringing into the present and are then only able to create the same future that you haven’t brought closure to yet. For me, I always ask “what are the facts or what’s so” before I make assumptions or jump to conclusions.

    • Gina Binder April 30, 2014 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      Beverley – I like your tip to focus on the facts. That’s a good way to stay anchored in the present!

  2. Diane Bester April 30, 2014 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Gina, you have me in hysterics! I can’t stop laughing, because I can see us doing the same thing with each other in our relationship! That is a really great story, and it is refreshing to see someone else admit their own experiences with assumptions.

  3. Kungphoo April 30, 2014 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Hahaha Awesome post! I feel like this is something that would happen to my fiance and I. Sometimes good communication is definitely hard, but it is important to work on it every day! 🙂

  4. Nate April 30, 2014 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    I believe assumptions can be both. Good and bad. Good in a way where you know what to expect and what they say and bad if you assume something and when you try to convey what you think they are talking about and you then fall flat on your face. I think it’s safe to say is to be patient and just wait for the process to take it’s course and go from there.

    • Gina Binder April 30, 2014 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Good point, Nate – assumptions can work for us or against us. I think patience is definitely a virtue in communication. A bit more patience, and an open mind, is often what we need to truly understand someone else’s point of view.

  5. Alexandra McAllister April 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Great post, Gina and it had me laughing as well! So good to see that you were open to share. I’ve been know to assume…because of things that happened in the past. Most of the time, I was wrong! Now, I do my best…to listen, have an open mind and check the facts.

  6. Roz May 1, 2014 at 12:33 am - Reply

    Love your blogs. We laugh with recognition and applaud your candor. My hubby makes assumptions and really thinks I know what they are. I speak on page 1 while he answers on page 5 and assumes I know all the things he didn’t say. We recently agreed that he will try to assume less and I will ask him to say what did he leave out. That was 2 weeks ago and it is working. Looking forward to your next home repair and relationships.

  7. Pat Moon May 1, 2014 at 12:55 am - Reply

    Oh, yes! How often are we misunderstood because of assumptions! Your article made me laugh when you finally got to the ‘bucket’ part. I can so relate. Now that older age is upon us we also are dealing with me having a slight hearing loss and my husband having a more gravelly throat which results in him not always speaking up. I accuse him of mumbling and he tells me I need to clean my ears. We have often wished we had written down all the misunderstandings that would create quite a humorous book. Over the years we have learned to laugh at those mis-communications but there have been times… lol!

    • Gina Binder May 5, 2014 at 2:05 am - Reply

      That’s funny, Pat! I’m glad you all have learned to see the humor in some mis-communications! Humor can take the sting out of so many things.

  8. Yvonne Brown May 1, 2014 at 1:27 am - Reply

    Realizing that emotions are not facts is a good starting point.

  9. Pamela May 1, 2014 at 3:49 am - Reply

    Lol! Funny but it’s really true. Sometimes, men and women think differently and as a result, talks and explains things differently, too. Communication is really the key and an open mind that we are all different. Sometimes it’s just a little hard, though. Lol!

  10. Rochefel May 1, 2014 at 4:11 am - Reply

    This is so true “We have to listen to our partners with greater curiosity and much less judgment.” and they (our partners) have to do it too to have good communication between each other…

  11. Ashley May 4, 2014 at 1:09 am - Reply

    Great post! It’s important to be open minded and not hold assumptions when communicating with someone.

  12. Gilly May 4, 2014 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    Far too many times things like this happen in our household. We are trying to come closer as a family and have eye contact, this has helped! Mind you there are still lots of times where are assumptions are made when it’s all good intentions. Great post Gina 😀

  13. A. Lynn Jesus May 4, 2014 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    I love the idea of listening with curiosity – you become an active participant and open. Open to learn, open to really hear and open to better your own communication skills. I know when I feel like someone is just assuming and not listening to my words I shut down. If they beat me to the finish line of what I was trying to convey then I know they are on their own road and not sharing mine. This is a great reminder to stay an active part of listening and conversing. Thank you!

  14. Katrina May 4, 2014 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    Having worked in a kitchen for over 15 years and mostly around men… I have learned a thing or to. Never assume. Always listen. Help them maintain focus.

    I have been known to jump to wrong conclusions and I am sure I will again in the future. But I understand that listening is more important than talking. And when speaking I have to be exact. No fluff.

    Great post and thank you so much for sharing!

  15. Marielle Altenor May 4, 2014 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    Assumptions is a sure way create miss communications and most time can result into arguments. I’d rather asked then assume.

  16. Sharon O'Day May 5, 2014 at 4:05 am - Reply

    I tend to take a “stakeholder” approach to all my business situations, where I stay keenly aware of the impact on all players involved in a transaction. That seems to have spilled over into my personal relations, so more often than not I’m listening for the true issue and not coming with preconceived ideas. Not always, of course … 😉

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