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Being misunderstood is normal

It’s tough, painful, unpleasant… but it’s part of life and there is no way of avoiding it completely.

No, I don’t mean this as a cop-out – of course it’s up to me to do my best when I write, to try to phrase things clearly. But no matter how hard I try, some people some of the time will get the wrong end of the stick. And there’s a limit to how much time and effort one can dedicate to trying to explain – dead horses won’t suddenly get up because you flog them harder, and some conversations just have to be left as they are.

The desire to feel you’ve been heard and understood – that is a very strong human need, but the reality is that our fellow humans can’t always answer that need. I’m generally someone who is pretty good at understanding other people, but every now and again I fail at that too. It just isn’t possible for any of us to totally and completely understand someone else all the time.

We come into a conversation with all kinds of fluff in our ears – expectations, prejudices, our own assumptions about the subject being discussed or about the person speaking, plus all sorts of distractions, things on our minds which prevent us from paying attention as well as we otherwise could, someone calling us or we’re in a hurry or whatever… And in the case of blogs, add to all the above the extra difficulty in understanding someone when you don’t know that person well (possibly not at all) and you don’t see their facial expression, don’t hear their tone of voice…

And because you’re not having a live conversation in real time, there isn’t the opportunity to correct things quickly before the misunderstanding escalates. In a normal conversation, say you start telling me I was wrong to say XYZ but I know I didn’t mean to say XYZ at all, I can quickly butt in and say no, that’s not what I was saying. But if you read my blog and think I was saying XYZ then you might post a whole detailed comment explaining that XYZ is wrong, and it’s only later, when I see your comment, that I can try to correct your false impression.

So yes, if I’m going to carry on blogging I need to somehow get used to being misunderstood. It comes with the territory.

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