The Challenge of Feeling Misunderstood

The Problem:

What can I do about being misunderstood so often?


The Solution:

Do you find yourself feeling no matter what you say to those close to you, it doesn’t get heard the way you meant it?  That’s because we all do something called “translating” when we hear others – especially people we have emotional feelings about.  The words come in our ears, but then they have to go through a whole series of relays in our brains that process the words – such as:  how were they looking when they said that?  what was the tone of their voice? Then we think: What did they mean by that? and then, further How do I feel about what I think they meant?   It doesn’t stop there.  Our brain then searches for other times we have felt that way, and what our internal “rules” are about how to respond when we have that feeling.  And then, lastly, we decide how – or if – we are going to respond to what was said.  All that takes just a fraction of a second, but often the “translating” that occurs can completely turn around the intention of the speaker to mean something completely different!

     How to get around all that?  We have to keep checking things out.  If we are puzzled about a response, ask (in a nice way) for the person to clarify or expand on their thoughts on the matter. Often, then, we can have the opportunity to turn around misunderstandings and avoid conflict, too.  But, also, just realizing how we process even simple statements… and how often they can get turned around by the listener’s history or interpretations … can let us relax a little, and not take everything so literally, so quickly. 


PAIRS workshops are offered throughout the year.

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