This lovely gem from The Tiny Buddha slipped into my mailbox today: 5 Tips to Repair the Damage from a Misunderstanding. It also has a link to this blog about communication. Sadly, I don't believe my latest misunderstanding can be repaired, but I wanted to read it all anyway. I've sent them prayers and blessings, and trust that they will be showered with exactly what they need, exactly when they need it. Vaya con Dios!
The first of the five tips is that the goals are "harmony and productive communication." I love the word "productive" here. I can't be a productive communicator if I'm too wrapped up in myself, because I can't see things from the other side. If I'm too busy trying to prove my "rightness" I won't have the open mind I need. One way to remove my ego is, first, to acknowledge I have a part in the misunderstanding. It takes two to tango; neither side carries all (or none) of the blame. This is challenging if the other party is unwilling to do the same, however. In a case like this, I have no choice but to let it go, because I know they can't hear me, and no amount of convincing will make a difference.
The next tip has to do with compassion and understanding.....trying to see things from their perspective. Again, open-mindedness is key, but regardless of how empathetic I try to be, I have to remember that they are speaking from their own perception and history. There may be issues coloring their perception that I have no knowledge of which can incur a reaction rather than a response -- BIG difference! In this instance, I try to extend grace, because they may be reacting out of a place of hurt or pain. I try to remember that everything they say isn't necessarily about me, and that their history and perceptions are in play.
The third suggests I should "value their strengths and motivations." Again, the goal is to take the focus off me and put it on them. Everyone has worthwhile talents and skills; my job is to be able to recognize and appreciate them.
Fourth, "determine how they judge others." This tip can be scary or comforting. Tiny Buddha says, "How they judge is a key to how they see the world." That's the scary part for me. What if they are judgmental -- like, to the point where it seems like nothing I do is right? What if I have no idea of the kinds of things that will set them off? What if I know they are partial to holding grudges? Do I walk around on eggshells all the time (been there -- and it's no fun!)? But what if I see that they extend grace and forgiveness? It lets me know I can be human, and, hopefully, they will forgive my humanity when it pops up (because it will!).
Finally, tip #5 is to "consider their fears." Many people lash out when they're afraid, and sometimes, I just happen to be in the way. Again, this requires compassion and grace. I have fears too, which can play a part in a discussion (or not) depending on the situation + my history + my perceptions. I know I can be sensitive -- sometimes overly so -- and if/when one of my buttons is pushed (and one of my fears is activated), I can overreact or act rashly. I have to remember that this applies to others as well. Unfortunately, I can't consider fears I don't know about, but we all share many of the same ones, so, once again, I try to extend grace.
Misunderstandings can be a real challenge. They require open-mindedness, compassion and grace -- on BOTH sides. Sitting on the Throne of Judgement with an attitude of blame and shame (they tend to go hand-in-hand) isn't the way to find the "harmony and productive communication" mentioned in the first point.
I know, without a doubt, that I'm doing the best I can at any given moment.
And so is everyone else.
Dan Pallotta states that "misunderstanding is 99% of our problems." Harmonious, productive, open-minded, compassionate, gracious communication is the solution.
Have you experienced a misunderstanding lately? How did you resolve it (assuming it was resolved)?
Have you been there?