The difference between telling and being understood

Vj always says that we are lucky.  We each grew up speaking different languages in the home.  The lucky part of that is that we know that we speak different languages and therefore have to give a little extra effort at being understood.

We all speak different languages; men and women, different communities, individual families.  It doesn’t matter if you grew up next door to someone, the language patterns and habit will be subtly but hugely different.

When we think that we speak the same language, we can get caught in a trap of thinking that we are understood because we have explained ourselves.

In reality, we often are still misunderstood even if the words that I have said are also coming out of your mouth, you may still not get my meaning.

Words are very powerful.  They shape our reality.  They push our buttons and they draw pictures in our imagination.  A subtle shift in word use can alter the course of a relationship.

Vj and I catch ourselves all the time, I’ll say one thing that has an entirely different meaning to him.  Fortunately, we have the luxury of knowing that we come from vastly different backgrounds so it makes things easier to spot.

Your Assignment: The next time you think that you know that someone understands you, check in and ask them what they think that you mean.  Sometimes defining a word can be tedious, but very rewarding!


2 Responses to “The difference between telling and being understood”
  1. Lesli Doares says:

    Thank you for this. If more people understood that the same words don’t always mean the same thing to the other person we’d be a lot better off. Assuming what someone else means is a recipe for disaster and disconnection. A useful example I once learned involved putting the emphasis on each word in the following sentence. See how the meaning changes: I didn’t say I gave her presents. Just because we speak the same language, doesn’t mean we “speak the same language”.

  2. So true! We all assign our own meanings to what has been said based on our past experiences. Not only that, but the tonality and body language that accompany them are vitally important too – usually more important than what was actually said.

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