Monday, May 24, 2010
Did you hear what I said?
Just because I said something does not mean that you understood what I said in the way I meant it
So often in human affairs this situation arises
We think that we are in agreement
We thought we were playing by the same rules of language
We thought we understood each other
Then we find out that the other party understood differently
We did not speak the same language
Or more precisely we spoke the same language with different interpretations of what we both meant
In our lives we will face these situations
When it is important write down what was said
Exchange copies and get agreement as to what was agreed
Use the famous phrase "unless I hear the the contrary I will understand that you agree with what I have written"
Sometimes it sounds too formal, however it can save a lot of grief in the long run
Miscommunications are the bane of our communications with each other
Feuds in families start from these miscommunications
Companies find themselves in court
Politicians spin their way out of trouble all day long communicating ambiguously and deliberately miscommunicating
Governments spin as a matter of deliberate daily miscommunications
Others play on ambiguities that allow them to later deny and spin
They do so knowingly as a tactic, ask any lawyer
Indeed many lawyers live on the minutiae of miscommunications
Life is not fair but we can make it clearer
So do not assume that you both understand the same thing from words uttered
Ask is this what you really mean?
Ask what have you understood from what I have said?
Do not expect the other party to have your understanding of your communication unless you have confirmed that this is so