Why does miscommunication happen so often even in relationships in which two people know each other very well? I recently got into a verbal altercation with Mr. Kelley in which he said I made him mad because of something I did. When in reality I just annoyed him. One might ask, “How do you know how you made him feel? Wouldn’t he have a better grasp on how you made him feel than you would?” Well, I know because I asked him and he agreed that in the end he wasn’t mad, but annoyed.
This might seem very trivial to those of you reading. It may even seem like a simple syntactical error. However, it wasn’t. At least not to me. I could deal with him being annoyed. I cannot deal with him being mad. I don’t give him many reasons to be mad, but annoyed? Sure! I talk really fast, slightly bossy, and ask too many questions. So him being mad was something we needed to discuss. Had he simply stated the correct emotion that he was feeling we could have moved on to other things, but he didn’t. This started a two-day, quasi-silent treatment. (Our whole disagreement was about more than a simple communication error. This was just the last installment.)
This argument made me think of how many times *we actually misunderstand one another, despite saying the same or meaning to say the same thing. Some words have multiple definitions that may mean many things to different people. How do we know we’re actually saying what we mean and, more importantly, that the other person is understanding?
*By “we” I mean people in general, not Mr. Kelley and I. He’s a man of very few words, so seldom does he give me anything to not understand.