Day 9: And the Award of “Miss Communication” Goes To…

… the blind were shouting “Listen!” while the deaf said “Can’t you see?”… Afro Lover by James.

Talking about miscommunication in relationship is a tricky matter. You could either spend watching the entire six seasons of Sex and the City, analyzing every detail of words, inflections, sequence of events, deciphering hidden or mixed messages and ended up with the guy you started with; or you could just throw your hands in the air and say “I have no freaking clue!”

The Afro Lover lyric describes it perfectly. We don’t need a scientific survey to tell us that miscommunication is the one of biggest causes of relationship strain and divorce; this applies to all types of relationship.

Let’s take one common example that happened a couple of days ago. My beloved is often working from home and not used to having me around during weekdays. He asked me about some ideas to write for his articles. After mentioning a couple of things, he said he would use another thing. Immediately, I felt rejected. The conversation went like this:

Me: My ideas are part of me. By rejecting them it means you’re rejecting me.

Him: No honey, that couldn’t be further than the truth.

Me: You’re doing it again!

I know what you’re thinking: poor bastard! He walked out the room frustrated and I felt worse. During the few minutes that we’re apart, 3073 questions flew in my head. Does he love me? Does he think I’m stupid and not good enough for him? Does he know I’m hurt? How could he reject me like that? Why did he do it? Why is he so insensitive? Why do I think he’s a bad person? Does it make me a bad person too? Gosh, I don’t need this shit. Arrgghhh!

Within a few minutes I experienced rejection, anger, hurt, alienation and resentment. If I tried to bury it and pretended it didn’t matter, it will fester over time creating even worse negative consequences.

The same scenario doesn’t only apply to personal relationship, but also to professional relationship. Sometimes at work we let things like this slide because we think feeling is less important when it comes to professional environment. However, that is far from the truth.

When we ignore the anger and hurt that results from miscommunication, we will jeopardize any future interactions and our relationship with that person. A combination of blame fixing, justification, fault finding, feeling victimized and defensiveness are just some of negative mental consequences; not to mention the physical and financial cost it might bring.

So, how do we resolve miscommunication? I won’t pretend to know that I know the answers. So I will compile what I know and what others know too:

  1. Listen twice, talk once.
  2. Cut back from using the word “no”. Gary had an interesting post about this.
  3. Use questions that intend to clarify (where did this happen?) and encouraging (can you tell me more?). Matt Kramer lists better questioning technique on his page.
  4. Don’t assume, ask questions.
  5. Generally, people are well-meaning. But just because they are an adult and educated,  doesn’t mean they are an effective communicator. It applies to each of us. So, keep that in mind.

Finally, after 15 minutes of agony, I asked him to come over and we talked about what happened before. I admitted that I overreacted and he promised to be more specific on what he wants. Things are not always perfect but we’re working on it.

So, do you have other tips on fixing or avoiding miscommunication?

2 Responses to “Day 9: And the Award of “Miss Communication” Goes To…”
  1. On a personal level, my wife and I started with an understanding of unconditional love. We both know that we are not perfect and we are not always going to agree but that should not stop us from accepting each other for who they are.

    Bigger picture… Why do people have a tendency to assume the worst instead of assuming the best? Instead of walking away wondering why we are rejected we could walk away believing that while our specific idea was not accepted, the interaction inspired the final idea.

    • Bytta says:

      Ideally, that should be the case. However, there are moments in our lives where we are in a bad place and miscommunication occurs. I think as long as the two parties are willing to correct it, everything should be fine. Thanks for your comment.

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