Wednesday, April 06, 2011


I'll bet I could write a 1,000 page book of just incidents where I said something and the other person heard something else and another one of times I heard something completely different than what was said to me.  One such incident was sad - I was talking to one of the people I supervised who was complaining about how disorganized our department was.  I was trying to get her to say what she thought would fix it, because I really thought she might have some good ideas.  I was sick of the chaos myself but was stumped about how to fix it.  It was Friday at the end of the day and I was tired and so was she.  Finally I suggested we talk about it on Monday because I could see she wasn't getting what I was asking. 

Well, on Monday morning she came in with a huge long letter which she read to me.  Apparently, she had been thinking about our conversation all weekend and thought I had called her stupid.  Good grief!  I don't know if she ever believed me, but I apologized for being unclear in my communication - that I certainly didn't think she was stupid.  It was just clear to me I wasn't asking the right questions so that she could see what I wanted from her.  It turns out she just thought we should use Microsoft Outlook to schedule meetings - which in my mind was fairly irrelevant for taming the chaos.  We had a Helpline with crisis calls all day and a boss who thought up new things for us to do every week.  I thought she might have a way to deal with that.  But no.  Unfortunately. 

I could think of literally hundreds of more examples.  And the sad part is that the person with the misunderstanding is usually completely positive that their interpretation is accurate.  Sometimes I wonder how the world of people runs at all considering how bad we are at communicating with each other.

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