Miscommunication in communication

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    I have had some difficult times communicating with people. I am also not socially inept either. It’s just that there are some people who are sensitive to a point where they will misinterpret a comment or question in an offensive way.My intent could be perfectly innocent and they will get upset. Now I am not saying that they are entirely the problem because I could be the one with communication problems and not know it.

    Just recently I was TEXTing a friend whom I have just started to get to know.
    I wrote, “what qualities do you like in other people?”
    She replied with a list of good attributes.
    I responded by texting that those are good attributes.
    This is what I think are good attributes positive, creative etc…
    Then her response to me was, “are you saying I am shallow?” After which she completely stopped communication with me. What happened?

    I absolutely don’t recall anything that could have communicated that she was shallow. Perhaps I am just socially inept after all?
    Yes, texting is not the best method of communication and I plan to give it up someday, but this kind of stuff occasionally happens with me in face to face communication as well.
    Is there a way in which I might improve how I communicate so as to avoid inadvertent offenses?

    • This topic was modified 9 years, 9 months ago by Tera.
    • This topic was modified 9 years, 9 months ago by Tera. Reason: I wasn't clear enough

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that perhaps it’s not how you’re communicating, but with whom.

    If you’re well grounded, speak from the heart, and have a healthy ego, then even a miscommunication could be easily rectified with a clarification. But if you find people are overacting and closing themselves off, then, you have to ask yourself, who are these people with whom you’re having these problems? Is there a pattern that you can recognize?

    Also keep in mind. It’s not you. It’s not them. It’s both of you. Sometimes, you won’t be able to connect with people with whom you’re not compatible in terms of communication. Maybe under different circumstances – different time of year, age, stage in life, but at this point, that connection is just not there. As you become more self-aware and accept that you can’t be friends with everyone (even those people with whom you would like to be friends), the less energy you’ll expand trying beat a dead horse.

    Focus your energy on those with whom you do connect. Try and make new friends, but don’t unnecessarily push the envelope if the other person is not willing to meet you at your half-way point.

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 9 months ago by John.

    Thanks for you insight John. The thing that gets me more then anything is I feel guilty and yet I don’t know what went wrong.


    Maybe there is nothing to learn except just be who I am, and not try to figure out other peoples insecurities..


    As a society, we seem to be doing a great job of taking everything as a personal insult. We’ve learned to assume the worst. Instead of accepting a compliment like “you look nice today” we take it as an insult meaning “you don’t look nice on other days, and I want you to know that today you meet my standards.” One thing we can never, ever know is what the other person truly means to say. We have rely on our own interpretations. If we perceive everyone in the world is insulting us, then everythng will be an insult. I don’t know how you can fight that.

    Andrea Roux

    Hi Tera – Sorry to hear you’re having difficulties.

    When I communicate with people, I try to remember that no matter how clear my words are, there is a chance the other person will misinterpret them.

    Think about it – Have you ever been in a situation where someone said something to you, and you were kind of offended, and then they had to explain what they really meant? Misunderstandings happen all the time.

    I think you’re approaching the issue in a healthy way. All you can do is send a clear message… Once it’s out there, it’s up to them to interpret it as they will!


    Thanks Andrea

    You are definitely right on that. It happens all the time. That’s why I try to read peoples tone more then their words. I have heard that we communicate more non-verbally.



    In contrast to some of the other pertinent and valuable opinions, there is another factor in communication that might be overlooked. When we invite someone to share with us, we are asking them to open to us. When you asked a question to your friend, she responded with such and such, which was her view. When you responded, was it because she asked you to share your view? Did you consider that your words might devalue her opinion of her own view?

    You: what do you like in a partner?
    Her: I like physical beauty, smart, sexy, good job.
    You: oh yeah? Well I like maturity, intimacy, spiritual growth. If he is mature and intimate, physical appearance and job are meaningless.
    Her: what the hell? I’m not shallow.

    Can you see in those words how the fantasy you trumped/stepped/devalued your fantasy friend’s view?

    One of the notions that applies to Buddhist monks is that they don’t preach dharma to strangers. If they are asked questions, they answer openly and skillfully, but they do not engage in religious debate.

    I feel something similar applies to those of us who focus on our spiritual development. We often can see things that others cannot, and it is our responsibility to take care in what pieces of reality we communicate to others. Otherwise we bring the fiery torch of our light and can easily burn away trust as the fire undermines the confidence of others.

    Of course, we have free will and can do anything and say anything we want. However, if this is a repeating pattern for you with multiple people, chances are there is something happening on your side that is causing it. Perhaps you love your insight so much that you share it when the other is not ready or open to it?

    With warmth,

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 8 months ago by Matt.
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