June 2, 2016

How to Analyze Your Unspoken Communication, part 2


“Between two brains, there will always be misunderstandings and lies caused by parasitic smells, drafts and poor-quality reception.” –Bernard Werber, Empire of the Ants


My last article was about being aware of what message we’re sending out when we communicate.  Today I will discuss the message we’re receiving when we interact with others. It’s self-defeating when we make assumptions during any communication.

It is often easy to take in the general idea of “You’re not good enough.” Yet, is that always the intended concept? Here are some examples of when communication, or the lack of it, can be misinterpreted:
  • I have a hearing loss. People can feel annoyed, and even disrespected, when they have to repeat themselves to me.
  • I have had many issues with angry drivers honking at me for the slightest reason.  Usually, it’s because I have slowed them down for two whole seconds. That’s why I usually refuse to look other drivers in the face now. In one instance, I ignored people honking at me for weeks. Then, a man walked up to me and told me that my tire was going flat.

Christine Holmberg is a cherished friend of many years.  She is a wife and mother of two young children. Recently, she decided to publish some thoughts on disrespectful situations that are common to all of us:

Certainly people can be mean and selfish. Certainly things are said that come across painful and insensitive. But, I wonder if they are always intended to be. I wonder if they have to be. So, here is my own ‘Open Letter’.

To the woman who gave me the stink eye when my crazy 5-yr old splashed our daughter at the splash park:

I choose to believe you were concerned about your daughter, not intending to make me feel bad about my own parenting. It wasn’t actually a stink eye as much as it was my own embarrassment of the situation coloring my take on it. I handled it the best I could, and I trust that you know that, because you’re human too. Even if not, it doesn’t hurt me to believe it.

To the selfish girl who wouldn’t get off her phone as she stood in line at the grocery store, making me wait longer:

I choose to believe you are talking with a friend who might need your friendship more than I need you to move a few seconds faster. Perhaps you are convincing her she should leave that horrible boyfriend, or that she’s too smart to quit school. I choose to believe you are focusing your attention on someone who needs you, not being self-involved. Even if not, it doesn’t hurt me to believe it.

To the woman on her phone at the part, as her crazy child runs circle and pushes my own kid:

I choose to believe you are doing your best. That on the way to the park, you spend the whole drive reminding your son that he shouldn’t hit, that he should share, that he should come to you when he’s angry. I choose to believe you are on your phone because this is our one break away from a hard parenting situation. You do need a break, you deserve one because I choose to believe you are doing our best, not negligent. Even if not, it doesn’t hurt me to believe it.

To the person who ignored me and blocked my way as I tried to get by with my cart at the grocery store:

I choose to believe you were lost in thought, not trying to keep me from my destination. I choose to believe you may have been daydreaming about a wonderful past experience that has you distracted with joy. Or perhaps dealing with a difficult situation that has you pondering your own response and emotional strength. I choose to believe you are simply distracted, not rude and selfish. Even if not, it doesn’t hurt me to believe it.

There are so many things that require our emotional attention. My time and heart are spent better on believing that you are good. That your intentions are pure. That you are human and doing the best you can, just as I am. I choose to believe this because even if not, it doesn’t hurt me to believe it. In fact, it gives me peace and hope in humankind. It gives me freedom to raise my children in my best way, and you to raise yours in your best way. And that we can both be right. Because we are human. And doing our best. I choose to believe this.

My Conclusion

“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”—Proverbs 18:2 (NIV)
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Do you interpret every communication with the proper insight?