I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly decent communicator. One thing that gets to me is when I am misunderstood. I’m not sure if it bugs me because maybe it’s because I didn’t communicate well, or if I’m bugged at the other person for reading between the lines for something I didn’t say. If I didn’t say something, I didn’t mean to. It has always frustrated me to no end when someone walks away from a conversation with me hearing something I never said, and then holding me accountable for it!
I have always been a believer of the power of perception. If you perceive something as being real, it’s real to you. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but it is real to the person. When someone perceives something you said, or something they thought you said a certain way, but it’s completely off course, what do you do? Do you tell them they’re nuts? Do you take ownership of it and apologize? You know, “be the bigger man”.
I’m really trying to honor people by respecting that whatever it is, it is real to them. If something I said, or something they thought they heard upset them, it’s real to them. I don’t think it’s up to me to tell them they’re stupid or something. However, I will not own something I never said or did. It’s a tough line to walk when you’re dealing with that perception thing.
My objective when I run into these types of conflicts is to walk away understanding one another. Notice I didn’t say agree. I want to understand why they felt the way they did, and I will take ownership if the tone of my voice or a facial expression may have communicated something different than what I said or even thought. My mind is a metropolitan superhighway with lots of things going on. Deadlines, lists, people to call and email. Meetings, schedules. I don’t mean to communicate that whatever someone is saying is unimportant to me. It’s highly possible that something they say triggers an entire string of thoughts of things I need to take care of. It’s my hope that they will listen to what I was thinking and feeling at the time, and we can each walk away enlightened, with that little episode being firmly buried in the past.
Does that ever happen to you? Is it just me?