Psychology of Human Nature: What we SAY, What People HEAR, and What we MEAN

in Proof of Brain3 months ago

I have long thought that communication between human beings is a small miracle!

Here we are, bringing different opinions and experiences to the table, we exchange some words and then we (allegedly!) come away with an understanding of a situation we shared. That's amazing!


Or DO We?

Much of the time, communication is actually a bit of a minefield, fraught with misunderstandings and biases. Most of these are related to what we think and conclude that another person's words mean. When — quite often — they don't mean that, at all, but thanks to our personal "experiential filters" that's what we end up with.

Just right here at our house, we didn't have my wife's delicious braised pork ribs for the longest time. Why?

Well, one time Mrs. Denmarkguy was thinking about making braised pork ribs for dinner but asked me whether I wanted the ribs or a chicken dish she'd been wanting to try out.

"I think I'd rather have the chicken!" I replied.


All was well... but many months later, I suggested the braised ribs for dinner, and the reaction was surprising:

"I thought you didn't LIKE those! Last time I suggested them you said you didn't want them!"

A discussion ensued, in which I went through the process of clarifying that in that moment, wanting the chicken was a narrow preference over wanting the ribs.

This is an example of something a lot of people do, on a day to day basis. In this case, Mrs. Denmarkguy inferred from my saying that I preferred the chicken that I didn't like the ribs. In fact, I simply preferred the chicken, but I also liked the ribs.


My statement of preference for one thing was not a statement of dislike for the other thing not chosen.

I said a thing — in complete earnestness — and Mrs. Denmarkguy heard a thing (equally sincerely) that was not the thing I meant.

As I said, communication is often a small miracle!

In the above example, the situation/interpretation of what was said was undoubtedly colored by the tendency in our society to insist on "either/or" and "yes/no" answers.


It's Either THIS or It's THAT!

I remember this sort of mixup from the world of politics, during the George W. Bush years following 9/11/2001... "If you're not WITH us, you're with THEM and thus the ENEMY!"

It seems to be part of our nature to be more comfortable with "this" or "that. We hold elections and one side wins by 51% to 49% and it leads to sweeping statements like "The People Have Spoken!"

But what was really "said" in an election?

How often do we vote for "Candidate A" even when we actually like "Candidate B" better but Candidate B has one piece of policy we are strongly opposed to? And then, how often is it inferred from that that we must "hate Candidate B" because we voted for Candidate A?

Life is seldom that clear cut!

I suppose the most important takeaway here is that *Precision of Language" matters!

Thanks for reading, and have a great remainder of your week!

How about YOU? How often do you find yourself in misunderstandings over what you SAID and what someone else INTERPRETED? Is it easy to put things right? Do you think communication IS a small miracle? Comments, feedback and other interaction is invited and welcomed! Because — after all — SOCIAL content is about interacting, right? Leave a comment — share your experiences — be part of the conversation!


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Created at 20210921 00:05 PDT



I think you are right @denmarkguy actually most of the times communication can be very difficult both to the listeners and to the communicators like sometimes we see ourselves you know trying to communicate with some other person and them misunderstanding or misinterpreting what you are trying to express. Actually it's good sometimes you voice out your thoughts in order to know whether it's tallies with what the communicator is trying to explain or express.
But there are also situations where someone will say something and mean something else while the person he/she is trying to communicate with will understand another thing altogether so everything is just; communication.
Honestly, communication it's not just a small miracle, it's a very big one because most times even in relationships you find out that communication is very crucial and then the way your partner interprets what you have said is another thing altogether, so it's all just Grace that we speak and it's been interpreted in the right way and sometimes in the wrong way and then when in the wrong way you just need to go through a lot of stress trying to explain what you meant by what you said.
All we have to do is to speak with caution and in the right frame of mind, being mindful of the way we speak not to be misinterpreted by others.

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This is so true. I see it all the time.

Through the years, many times, I find someone thinks I mean something other than what I say. I think, why are you trying to figure out what I mean instead of listen to exactly what I said? I don't play mind games. I don't "hint". The things I express come from a very simple and innocent place. It always baffles me when someone seems to receive it a different way.... baffles and surprises me.