The meaning of your communication

We communicate every day, but how often are we consciously aware of what we say, how our words are received and what impact they have? I think most people don’t give it much thought, just assume that everyone understands what they’re saying, until something goes wrong. Or maybe it’s just me 🙂 .

As I mentioned before I’m in a NLP training (if you do what you did, you will get what you got). NLP is based on several presuppositions and one of them is: the meaning of your communication is the response you get. You are responsible for getting your message across the way you intend it. A lot of people hold the other person responsible for not correctly understanding the message. Isn’t that nice and easy, it’s the other person’s fault, not their own. In NLP you take the responsibility if someone else didn’t understand the message. You take a closer look at what you said, check how your message was received and … try again.

My post Call me crazy got the following response “Please don’t blame anyone who doesn’t understand it, even for yourself it is difficult to understand and to accept. People indeed have no clue, thank god, so even if they want to help you they have no idea how. Usually this ends up in trying to give someone a positive vibe, a peptalk. Don’t shut them out and don’t feel hurt”.

When I read this, the first that came to my mind was: “Don’t blame anyone? Where was I off in my communication?” Ohhh, I am so practicing NLP (it could also be my uncertainty, but I prefer to think I’m getting good at this NLP stuff). I was surprised, because I never blamed anyone. In fact, I’m convinced that each and every one had good intentions (though that doesn’t make it less painful). In the past I probably would have freaked out, convinced that person would hate me 🙂 . Now, I was just curious. Most people seemed to have taken it the way I intended it, so when I got this response I really wanted to know what triggered it. Did I say something that could be taken in a different way, did I omit something crucial? When you write something, you know all the in ands outs and it’s easy to omit something because you assume it will be clear or you think people know. But someone else who does not know everything there is to the story might lose you and interpret it the way it makes most sense to them.

I really wanted to learn more about this interpretation, so I asked what exactly it was that lead to the interpretation that I blamed anyone. The answer was that ‘blame’ may not have been the correct term. The intention was to say it wouldn’t do me any good to worry about how people responded to me because it is their inability to understand. This was something I didn’t get out of the initial response. Isn’t it fascinating how we all have our own filters through which we experience and interpret the world and words in different ways? Maybe you have siblings and when you talk about something that happened in your youth you discover that they had a (totally) different experience. It may even be so different that you start to wonder if you’re really talking about the same thing. Really, when you think about it, it’s a miracle our communication works out most of the times.

Honestly, I think communication should be taught in schools. Everyone should learn about the impact of their communication, different ways to communicate, to say what they want in a clear yet respectful manner, give their opinion in a constructive way. I think people would be much more understanding and respectful towards one another. No, it still wouldn’t be a perfect world, but it would definitely be a step in the right direction.
So maybe, the next time someone misunderstands you, it might be interesting to see what they heard and what you could do differently so they do understand… or not…