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How to Avoid Misunderstanding Others


By with 56 comments
Couple sitting far spaced on a bench trying to avoid misunderstanding together

Have you ever tried to avoid misunderstanding from taking place? Well, for that matter, with anybody, like your husband, wife, family members, or even friends and colleagues at office or your work place.

Don’t tell me you never had any misunderstandings with anyone! Misunderstandings are so disturbing and common.

They tend to unbalance you by getting into your head before you even know what’s happened!

And they cause such havoc, throwing the most reliable relationship off-balance. Sometimes misunderstandings even cause you to scrap your most sentimental relationship in a jiffy.

There are two aspects of misunderstanding; to be misunderstood, or to misunderstand. In this post, I’ll mostly consider only the latter.

If you ever did try to avoid misunderstanding with others from taking place, you would know how it helps to keep your relationships healthy.

Misunderstandings have a deep and immediate impact on the state of your relationship. And keeping the misunderstandings at bay avoids conflicts.

Do you agree?

Okay. I’m sure most of you must have experienced or witnessed fights and breakups. Or you might have seen them happen or get started due to small and silly misunderstandings.

Wrong ideas creep in like little creatures or worms to breed and grow in our minds. They only tend to infect us with delusions, negative thoughts, doubts, and suspicions.

I read somewhere that the Native Americans even had a name for this phenomenon. They called it “Wetiko” – a worm like mind-parasite that changes the mental perspective of a person.

Is misunderstanding really about your distorted perspective, perceptions, and presumptions?

You can best try to avoid misunderstanding by analyzing what a misunderstanding is and why it happens. And how you can prevent these small mistakes or confusion to hijack your relationship.

“Clear up any misunderstanding before it gets to that point.” – Joel Miller

What is Misunderstanding

There’s nothing right about a misunderstanding. It is an error, for which you can blame yourself or the other person, though we generally do the latter.

Simply put, misunderstanding is a failure to understand something or someone correctly. It can also be a disagreement or quarrel.

However, basically it is a misapprehension, misconception, an illusion or distortion of the reality. Misunderstanding is a false impression that is created in your mind.

If you take something in the wrong sense or understand it wrongly, it is misunderstanding, whether it is about the words, actions, or behavior.

A misunderstanding can occur with or without any communication. The medium of communication can be written, audio, face-to-face, video chat, or even a type chat on the computer or a mobile.

Even abstaining yourself from communication could lead to the development of misunderstanding. However, misunderstanding is generally miscommunication, and not the lack of communication.

Misunderstanding can happen to both or all the parties involved in a relationship, or it can be one-sided. Whatever be the case, misunderstandings can always be avoided.

“Most quarrels amplify a misunderstanding.” ~ Andre Gide

Why Does a Misunderstanding Happen

Misunderstanding can occur when you –

  • Interpret the words wrongly in contrast to what is conveyed by the other person.
  • Fail to understand something correctly because it was not conveyed in the right way, or you didn’t receive it in the way it was conveyed.
  • Are not in the same state of mind or mood as that of the one conveying the thoughts.
  • Already have different set notions in your mind that force you to make biased misinterpretation of information.
  • Apply past behavior and experiences, use that as a reference, and conclude your opinion on that basis –  even if it isn’t the case.
  • Are influenced by other people, thoughts, or events. These can change your perception, and you fail to see the clear or correct picture.
  • Mistrust the other person, have feelings of envy, or lack self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Incorrectly assess people and situations.
  • Don’t get your preconceived expected response, which upsets you.
  • Start assuming the negative reasons when there’s a delay in response from the other person.
  • Don’t clearly understand the context of the matter.
  • Flow with your pent-up emotions, and get carried away without trying to understand the other person.

These are plenty of reasons to know to avoid misunderstanding from taking place.

Misunderstanding happens mostly because you just assume certain things and facts.

You make assumptions that probably have no justifying reasons. In this way, a misunderstanding is more about your projection of attitude, rather than a communication problem.

Your mind tries to complete a half picture into a complete one. This is based on the information previously stored in your mind and the subconscious, or based on what is perceived through the biased mind.

The resulting understanding is not correct, which should be avoided.

“It is better to understand little than to misunderstand a lot.” ~ Anatole France

Misunderstanding in the Virtual World

Misunderstandings happen often in our daily life, and more so in the virtual world. It is because the communication through messaging, type chats, and emails miss two crucial elements.

One, the visual cue or signs that add clarity to conversations. Not that communication having visual cues is devoid of misunderstanding, but it reduces a lot of your guessing work.

Second, the tone used in the messages or the letter. We sometimes assume a negative tone or sarcasm in the message, even if it was unintended.

Sometimes, the sender of the messages is not able to express clearly and completely through the short and brief texts. This often forces you to make presumptions.

Presumptions may lead to miscommunication. That is why face-to-face conversations are best. However, video and audio chats are better than type chats and emails in that respect.

“Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” ~ Miguel Angel Ruiz

Here’s Roger Gil giving you the information about many other factors involved in misunderstanding between partners specifically, but the information holds good for all other forms of relationships too.

 Making it Work: Misunderstanding Our Mate’s Intentions & How to Avoid It ~ LuvBuzd  ~YouTube Video

How to Avoid Misunderstanding Others

The solution to avoid misunderstanding in my opinion is complete communication and correct perception.

Mostly, the misunderstandings happen due to miscommunication, lack of communication, difference of opinions, unlike-mindedness, and the ways of thinking.

There are many suggested ways to avoid misunderstanding in any kind of relationship – it could be within friendship, marriage, family, official or any other.

I believe LOVE helps me prevent misunderstanding from taking place.

Well, yes love really is powerful. Love and compassion can help you in any situation, and help clear misunderstandings too.

However, the LOVE I use here is my coined acronym. It stands for –

L – Listen

O – Observe

V – Verify

E – Evaluate

I’ll explain it in simple words.

Listen intently. Be completely attentive. Most misunderstandings happen because we don’t listen fully to what is being said.

For text contents like emails, carefully read every word.

The reason being, if we have other thoughts in our mind, they can disturb and disable us to completely or correctly understand what is really being conveyed.

And, sometimes there’s more to what is being said. You need to understand the hidden real meaning behind the words.

Observe carefully. Ensure you don’t miss any visual cue that can add to the information conveyed and make it complete.

Watch how you words are conveyed. Sometimes things sound bad but they look fine, and vice versa.

Try to know the intent of the person through these cues. The intent is generally more important than the content.

We often get upset by the tone used, and presume it is being used sarcastically, even though if it wasn’t  Keep your mind open and clear, and don’t make presumptions.

Verify your thoughts before you give them the right to influence you.

You should clarify your doubts, if any, there and then. Do this before the worm of misunderstanding gets the chance to sneak in and breed in your mind.

Verify if the body language of the person, facial expressions, and other factors go with what is being conveyed, and the way you perceive it.

Try to confirm if the perception formed in your mind correctly relates to the cues presented. Resist the temptation to react.

Evaluate your observations and verify. Find out if what the other person is conveying is the same or different from what you understood.

If what you perceive isn’t in agreement with what the other person is saying, then you need to know that this could lead to misunderstanding.

It is then better to frankly speak you mind, and ask for a clarification.

Have patience. Give time and opportunity to the other person to explain. Have discussions if possible, before jumping to conclusions, reacting, and making a hue and cry!

Even if you do so, let the other person know the exact reason for your reactions.

“When there’s a misunderstanding, one must make a compromise. This word is not a bad word.” ~ Nicolas Sarkozy

Short Tips to Avoid Being Misunderstood

  • Think before you speak.
  • Carefully choose your words, and avoid ambiguous ones.
  • Frame your sentences well, and always check the tone.
  • Appropriately use emoticons like smileys, exclamatory signs, or expressive abbreviations like LOL.- while texting or SMS, and in your chats.
  • Consider cultural differences. The same words might be used in different contexts.
  • Express clearly and completely, and convey the right meaning.
  • Prefer face-to-face conversations.
  • Always reply promptly because silence breeds misunderstanding.
  • Communicate effectively.

“We are infected by our own misunderstanding of how our own minds work.” ~ Kevin Kelly

You never know when you’ll get another chance to clear up your doubts, so do it there and then. Don’t give the seed of misunderstanding any time to take root in your mind.

Because later when the misunderstanding grows as time elapses, the ego factor builds its wall between you and the person you’ve a misunderstanding with.

In such cases, it has been observed that people don’t even talk to each other for hours, days, months, years, or even decades. And eventually they lose interest in renewing their relationship.

Remember, life is short. You never know what’s in store tomorrow. Clear up issues now, and don’t keep such important matters pending.

Don’t keep any place for misunderstanding in your mind. Always try to avoid misunderstanding others, wherever possible.

Communication is an important factor to avoid misunderstanding. So, make sure to communicate often and regularly with those who matter to you.

“To be misunderstood can be the writer’s punishment for having disturbed the reader’s peace. The greater the disturbance, the greater the possibility of misunderstanding.” ~ Anatole Broyard

Did you read the above quote? I hope I’ve not disturbed your peace!

One of the reasons for my posts being long is that I like to make things and topics as clear and complete as possible. And this way you don’t have to hunt for information elsewhere.

So, now I hope there’s no scope of any misunderstanding or miscommunication!

I guess I don’t need to talk about the length of my posts every time, but this was an appropriate context. ;)

“Where misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood” ~ Lionel Trilling

Over to you –

Did you ever misunderstand anyone or have the experience of being misunderstood?  What were the reasons? How do you try to avoid misunderstanding others? Share in the comments below.

 

Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos


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About Harleena Singh

Harleena Singh is a positive thinker and a freelance writer. She loves to write inspiring and thought provoking posts on self-improvement, family, relationships, health, and other aspects of life. She's not another personal development guru, but just an average person with great life experiences. She's also a blogger, who loves to share her blogging knowledge and experiences. Network with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+..

56 Comments

  1. Lisa

    September 28, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I lot of times people (including myself) will misunderstand someone because we presume where they are coming from. We don’t listen carefully enough to them. This happens a lot in political discussions. Ever notice it’s hard to change someone’s mind on a candidate?

    The same for family members as well. We think we know them so well and presume a lot as you are listening instead of listening with an open mind.
    I love your point about silence breeds misunderstandings. I have a friend and neither of us has communicated in almost 2 years. I got tired always being the one to make the call, email, etc. Gives me a thought.

    Nice topic and solutions to situations Harleena :)

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      Harleena Singh

      September 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      I’m glad you like the topic, Lisa!

      You’re right; presumptions play a big role in making misunderstandings happen. Active listening can really help to avoid misunderstanding. You’re so correct about making the choice for the political candidate – how many of us really take that decision after a rational unbiased analysis? Most of us succumb to presumptions and make biased decisions. However, seldom do the politicians themselves listen after getting elected!

      We’ve a nature to keep making our assumptions and judgments when we listen to others, and its very rare that we listen with an open mind, which means not to interject our opinion and thoughts, rather only hear the other person being unbiased and neutral.

      It quite happens that we cannot touch upon all our contacts, and near or dear ones. But the list of those whom we contact, depict our priority. However, time and distance do not affect good relations and they put their heart out whenever they meet or talk – then there’s no misunderstanding, but only understanding.

      Thanks for contributing your views. :)

      • Jay Carter

        October 7, 2012 at 8:28 pm

        This is a great post.

        I have problems misunderstanding and I think it’s probably caused fallouts with close friends.

        I might not be able rekindle those friendships again but with the knowledge I’ve gained within this post hopefully I’ll have less problems with people in the future.

        Thanks.

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          Harleena Singh

          October 8, 2012 at 6:51 am

          Welcome to the blog, Jay!

          I’m glad you found the post useful. I too hope that misunderstandings will not anymore cause problems in your relationships.

          Thanks for stopping by. :)

  2. Debbie

    September 28, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Very Good.

    You say, “Are influenced by other people, thoughts, or events. These can change your perception, and you fail to see the clear or correct picture.” I do like this part. Many times rather than getting to know some one personally we let others influence our perspective.

    Misunderstanding can cause havoc with a relationship, and communication is the only way to solve this problem. When I was dating my hubby we had a very bad misunderstanding that could have cost us the relationship. We both stepped back with our own thoughts in the matter and then sat down calmly and communicated our perspective in the situation. We talked it out.

    After doing this we had a stronger relationship and more understanding of each others personalities.

    Great post Harleena. No misunderstanding is worth throwing a good relationship away for. It comes down to solving the situation by communicating and listening carefully to one another.

    Debbie

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      Harleena Singh

      September 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Glad you liked the post, Debbie!

      Yes, that’s true. It happens many a times that we fail to give our own thoughts and belief the priority, and change our perspective as per the influences. From our perspective it changes to their perspective, but still not the real perspective. This also changes our perception and understanding.

      With regards to communication, there are two aspects – lack of communication and miscommunication. Both are bad, but mostly its miscommunication that hurts the most in form of misunderstandings. However, better and effective communication helps to reduce the probability of miscommunication.

      It’s a great way you both resolved your issues. Apart from all other aspects, the ego plays the villain in a misunderstanding. If you keep the ego lower, it will be easier to resolve a misunderstanding. I believe sharing and solving difficulties together do strengthen the bond between people.

      While communication is the key, I believe we should also keep a check on our perception and perspective, for these too are important factors to avoid misunderstanding.

      Thanks for sharing your views and experiences. :)

  3. Ilka Flood

    September 29, 2012 at 2:02 am

    Hi Harleena,

    A topic I am all to familiar with. Because of the language barrier and different culture there have been many misunderstandings between my husband and I. Yet we have managed to stay together for 32 years. My husband’s secret are two words …”Yes Dear!”

    Very enlightening post and thanks for the pointers!

    Ilka

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      Harleena Singh

      September 29, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      I’m happy that you liked the post and could relate to it as well, Ilka!

      True, I agree that cultural differences can let many misunderstandings to creep in your life. The perspectives can differ a lot and that makes it difficult to understand the other person. But love and compassion can clear all misunderstandings, and so it did in your case!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience. :)

  4. Sylviane Nuccio

    September 29, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Misunderstandings can create a big mess indeed. Sometimes, even being from a different culture than another person can create a misunderstanding between the two.

    Some time ago a boss of mine took my humble reaction to something as a “I don’t care about it” message. The worse part about this is that she judged me without a words it was all body language. I shook my head and kind of shrug my shoulder and she interpreted that totally wrong.

    I know that for having been among foreigners a good chunk of my life I tend to not judge people on how they react to things, because being from a different culture can mean the world, if you know what I mean.

    Thank you for this very interesting subject and hope it can help people who tend to jump into conclusions easily and create a misunderstanding that will break the peace.

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      Harleena Singh

      September 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Yes, Sylviane, cultural difference does have a hand in creating misunderstanding between people, and Ilka was talking about the same.

      You’ve presented a real example of how much the body language of a person matters in creating misunderstanding. It’s okay as far as the body signs and indications are universal in nature; however culture or region specific body language may not be understood by all and everywhere. In general, the body language should complement the verbal language, but if they show contrast, then it raises doubts and creates misunderstanding.

      I too hope this post helps people to understand the concept of “misunderstanding” in detail, and equip them with ways to avoid misunderstanding, or get inspired to clear existing misunderstandings with their near and dear ones.

      Thanks very much for sharing your valuable thoughts and experiences. :)

  5. Brian Hawkins

    September 29, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I think misunderstandings are even more of a problem today with the internet and texting. It’s easy to misread context with just a few lines of text. Sometimes we can’t tell if someone’s mad or just making a simple statement; especially on Twitter.

    Another huge misunderstanding comes from not listening and assuming the other person wants our help. Sometimes a friend just wants us to listen. If someone tells me a personal problem, say they owe too much money for example; it doesn’t mean I’m supposed to get all up in their finance business. Just listen and understand… not everything has to be ‘fixed’.

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      Harleena Singh

      September 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      Welcome to the blog Brain, it’s nice to see you here!

      I totally agree with you that communication through the social media and even mobile texting has great potential of creating misunderstandings. It’s not always possible in such brief messages to show your intent and feelings, which do matter a lot in conveying the complete meaning.

      Yes, you give a good message – there’s a difference between lending an ear and lending money, which you only get to understand if you’re an active listener. And, listening is an important part of effective communication, right? So, we should use it often to avoid misunderstanding.

      Thanks for your wonderful thoughts and reflections. :)

  6. Ferb

    September 29, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Misunderstanding is really a big problem. Sometimes even without doing anything. Your article is just great, full of information and thats all I can say.

    Greatly thank you for this information – Ferb

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      Harleena Singh

      September 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Welcome to the blog, Ferb!

      I’m glad you like the post. You’re right, even your silence or abstinence can create misunderstanding, and it depends on the situation as well as the perception of the other person.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  7. Ganesh J. Acharya

    September 29, 2012 at 11:03 am

    At times it is noticed an individual often starts to correct another by their own known methods (without researching its impact). But often forgets no human is perfect. It is here the problem generally starts. Again, it is necessary to correct your other half as well… so… the problems will come… and that’s part of life…

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      Harleena Singh

      September 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      Welcome to the blog, Ganesh!

      Yes, it depends on our attitude regarding how we perceive others trying to correct us. We have the option to take it sportingly and gladly as a concerned suggestion, or you can take it ill, hurt your ego, and misunderstand the person. As regards the spouse or partner, they need to avoid such misunderstandings. Love and compassion can help a lot in this aspect.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  8. Aditya

    September 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Harleena, Superbly Written!

    Misunderstandings are the main reason why I went through a depression. Wetiko is the exact right word for it and I can tell you, that they totally wreck a person’s mental state.

    I have also had several misunderstanding in the virtual world mostly with guest bloggers who approach my blog. We certainly do miss visual signs that usually determine the tone of a conversation.

    Listen, Obeserve, Verify and Evaluate – You cannot get a better full form for love when talking about misunderstandings. However I personally think, Listening and Observing are very important because most people jump to conclusions immediately and that leads to misunderstandings.

    Nicely written and thank you for some awesome words!

    Aditya

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      Harleena Singh

      September 29, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Glad that you like and resonate with the post, Aditya!

      Nobody else can better explain a misunderstanding than the one who really suffered through it. It’s really true that once a misunderstanding makes place in a person’s mind, it’s not easy to throw it out!

      I’m glad that phase of life is over with you, and now you value how important listening and observing are to any conversation, of any kind. The tone definitely clarifies the intent, to an extent.

      I think we should use more emoticons, exclamations, interjections or abbreviations like LOL to let the reader understand the tone of the text. What do you say?

      I’m happy you like the LOVE acronym. Jumping to conclusions is the worst thing a person can do in a relationship. One should’ve patience and should tax the brain a bit to analyze the conversation before doing anything else.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences and contributing to the post. :)

      • Aditya

        September 29, 2012 at 7:29 pm

        I agree. I actually try to put my facial expressions into a text message.

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          Harleena Singh

          September 29, 2012 at 7:51 pm

          Ah, facial expressions! That’s the word :)

          Gosh, if some program could automatically add those to the texts sensing the context!!

          Hey, here’s a site where you can find your interjection. ;)

  9. Jeevan Jacob John

    September 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Oh, yes, I have had several instances in which my friends misunderstood what I told them (but, thank God, they were my friends, so I was able to clarify it all up almost immediately).

    I haven’t had that many serious problems with misunderstanding (I guess that’s mainly because I am not that much social :D).

    Misunderstanding can be really “annoying” – because we are all biased after all, and it is hard to think out of the perspective (especially when we misunderstand someone else).

    But, like you mentioned, the only solution here is to analyze and really think about the situation and what we are going to do (or what we did).

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      Harleena Singh

      September 30, 2012 at 7:58 am

      Yes, it’s hard to stop anybody from having misunderstanding, Jeevan. We cannot control the way a person perceives or how she or he orients self perspective. I’ve seen cases where people create misunderstandings themselves about people who’re not at all social or very less social, or even if they’re not in contact with them.

      It is because we like to be judgmental, and so you’re right when you say that we’re all biased. Changing a perspective needs lot of convincing, as you say it happens to all of us, and we’re not able to think out of it.

      Yes, one needs to assess self perspective and beliefs being non-reactive, impartial, and non-judgmental in order to set them right, remove the web of misunderstandings, and have clear and normal relationships.

      Thanks for stopping by and contributing your thoughts. :)

      • Jeevan Jacob John

        October 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm

        Yes, you are right. And in most cases, when we try to help them get rid of their current perspective, they perceive it in a different manner (calls for more misunderstanding!).

        Yes, self assessing is the best way to go with these things. Think about it from a neutral perspective (and maybe from the perspectives of others – “how badly did my words affect him/her?”).

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          Harleena Singh

          October 30, 2012 at 9:43 am

          Whoa! How did I miss this comment; I must be napping when you made this reply ;)

          Well yes, sometimes you get yourself more into trouble helping others – you’re misunderstood more, as you say. Misunderstandings are best cleared when introspected using the neutral perspective as you suggest. However, the person need to be in the self-correcting frame of mind for this to happen, and this is the bone of contention as people try to avoid this step.

  10. Hajra

    September 30, 2012 at 12:32 am

    You put it right. The truth remains meddled up with and somehow missing and lost while understanding the whole story. There a lot of things we just assume and take things to heart.

    Misunderstandings as I see it are unavoidable. But they are solvable. We fail to solve them out. We just hold the misunderstanding for so long and keep strengthening it in our heads that it slowly becomes a belief. We start believing it and then tend to hold on to it for far too long.

    We have to talk it out and be ready to accept that we can be wrong and it can be totally not true like we make it to be!

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      Harleena Singh

      September 30, 2012 at 8:54 am

      I’m glad you’re in agreement with the post, Hajra!

      You’ve nicely described how misunderstanding become problems – misunderstandings become beliefs with time and reinforcement. And once it acquires the status of a belief, it becomes hard to dislodge it, because beliefs are your version of truth, reasons for existence, and sacred principles of life.

      You become so closely associated with your beliefs that you think you cannot exist without them. Then, for you there’s no other truth, and even there were, you won’t accept and recognize them. It all happens because of our perceptions, presumptions, and perspective.

      But I agree with you, indeed misunderstandings are solvable, and we need to do as you suggest – talk it out, accept you can be wrong, take down your assumptions, and I’d add further, have the will and courage to apologize or make a compromise.

      Thanks for contributing your valuable thoughts to the post. :)

      • Hajra

        September 30, 2012 at 10:21 pm

        Talking it out will solve things. But the fact remains that the talking out is a tough process because people’s ego tend to get in the way. And often discussions turn into arguments. Which gives rise to misunderstandings again.

        Talking out calmly is a tough one but it can solve a lot of problems!

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          Harleena Singh

          October 1, 2012 at 7:05 am

          You’re absolutely correct on this one. Ego is the main obstruction in resolving any misunderstanding between two people in a relationship. And it takes two to tango in such cases – both parties concerned need to lower their egos and come to a compromise. I agree that talking is the only way out, while acts of compassion too melt the misunderstanding.

          Thanks for making things clearer. :)

  11. Viola Tam

    September 30, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Great topic for discussion.

    I agree wholeheartedly that misunderstanding can be minimized by mastering the skills of communication which includes listening well PLUS observing the tone of voice and body language.

    Great insights from Roger! Our perspectives are always unique. Treating one’s own assumption as the truth is a predictor for miscommunication. For avoiding misunderstanding, NEVER ASSUME. Always have a two-way dialogue and clarify. No anger. No sadness. No judgement….. many factors count! LOVE is the basis for everything.

    I appreciate your sharing, Harleena :)

    Viola Tam

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      Harleena Singh

      September 30, 2012 at 9:09 am

      Glad you liked the post, Viola!

      Yes, communication is the reason for either creation or elimination of misunderstandings. Lack of communication and miscommunication give birth to misunderstanding, whereas, effective communication can remove misunderstandings.

      You’re very correct – assumptions without any logic and sound reason lead to misunderstandings. A 2-way dialogue has to be there. And yes, there are so many factors to take into account in any conversation like the tone, body language, and above all, we should be non-judgmental and give our self time to analyze the conversation before giving in to our emotions.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and views on the topic. :)

  12. Peggy Strack

    September 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Great post.

    Misunderstandings can do so much damage. Your steps to avoid and deal with them are so helpful. Thanks you! ~ Peggy

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      Harleena Singh

      September 30, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      Welcome to the blog, Peggy!

      I’m glad you like the post and that it helps.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  13. Amandah

    September 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Great post!

    I believe some people intentionally seek out to misunderstand others because it gives them a sense of power, or it’s their way of being seen and heard.

    I had a misunderstanding on Facebook; however, I believe it was a blessing in disguise because the people I had the misunderstanding with weren’t mature enough to see my point-of-view. I learned the following lessons:

    1. Some people (even family) won’t be for you.
    2. Some people can’t agree to disagree.
    3. No matter how much you try to clarify something, it won’t be good enough and you’ll be wasting your oxygen and time.
    4. It’s best to say, “You know what? You’re right.” Drop the subject and get the heck out of the line of fire. Limit the amount of time you spend with people who aren’t mature enough to see your point-of-view.

    My Facebook debacle gave me a way to cut ties with people who didn’t add any value to my life. I realized that some people can’t handle it when you set boundaries. And… Some people can’t handle it when you stick up for yourself.

    As I mentioned above, I’m mature enough to agree to disagree. Everyone has an OPINION and they’re entitled to it. I have the right NOT to agree, and I also have the right to say, “Whatever.” I won’t allow a silly misunderstanding to steal my joy or upset me. Life’s too short. :)

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      Harleena Singh

      October 1, 2012 at 6:54 am

      I’m happy that you like my post, Amandah!

      I can’t disagree with the fact that everyone has the right to have an opinion, and we all have the right to agree or not as per what suits us. People who understand this point of view can agree to disagree. If we’re confident about ourselves and our ways, we needn’t be bothered about what opinion people have; you have to do what you have to do.

      However, I make a general rule that I do not be selfish enough to not to consider the general happiness in the family or common good of the society, but this depends on many other factors, so it’s very subjective too.

      It so happens that people start to project their expectations and desires on to others, consider their own viewpoint as right and valid, and judge people accordingly. Although it might hurt initially to know that even your family members do not understand you or respect your viewpoint, but its each one to his or her own, and I agree that it’s not possible or required every time to give clarification once you know that the other person hasn’t developed the understanding to agree to disagree.

      I’m glad to know that you dealt with the situation in a positive way, and took lessons from it instead of getting entangled in the problem. It’s important to keep our control within ourselves – do not let yourself to be controlled and driven by others’ whims and fancies; you end up dancing to their tunes, not able to enjoy and live your life.

      I’ve learnt that you cannot please everyone, and you don’t have to do that – but I also know of people who take this dictum to validate their wrong ways – that way it’s very subjective and the result depends on how developed is the person’s conscience.

      Lastly, it depends on us to avoid misunderstanding from taking place, if we come to an understanding that some people are not that developed and mature, so instead of giving them the power by reacting, we need to remain calm and act as per our own understanding.

      Thanks for sharing your life experiences and lessons that you learnt from your life. :)

  14. Jodi at Heal Now and Forever

    October 1, 2012 at 6:28 am

    It happens so much and is so easy to do since perception is so relative. While its hard to completely avoid, asking questions tends to minimize it. :)

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 1, 2012 at 7:11 am

      That’s right, Jodi. Absolutely no doubt about that! Perception is relative. And, in any misunderstanding, the first step should always be to ask questions before jumping to any conclusions.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  15. Anne relationship help blog

    October 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    I love the quote from Miguel Angel Ruiz. This is one of the key elements to avoiding misunderstandings. We have to ask questions about things we get wrong or don’t understand.

    So many times, misunderstandings could be avoided by just clarifying some tiny detail we think was said or done (but that wasn’t). I’ve had situations like that in my life. This is why I now try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

    Thanks for another great article.

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 1, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Glad you like the post, Anne!

      Yes, that quote says it all – no presumptions and full communication. It’s the best remedy to avoid misunderstanding. I agree that asking a simple question might clear up biggest of misunderstandings.

      You mentioned something that can be made as a rule – give people the benefit of doubt! And, whenever in doubt, just ask. Really, how much time and energy can these simple rules save, which otherwise would be spent crying or cursing due to misunderstanding.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and contributing to the post. :)

  16. Adrienne

    October 1, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    I’ve been guilty of this more times then I care to admit Harleena.

    I know that a lot of times people misunderstand something because they are either really upset and are hearing what they want to hear. I’ve always been so careful to take my time and explain things thoroughly. But at times they are still misunderstood and my words are taken the wrong way. That upsets me so much too because I’ve been so careful.

    I also am always giving advice to my friends that the reason a lot of relationships fail is because they never really took the time to get to know that other person. What I mean is when you have an argument, you have to take into consideration how that person feels about that particular subject. Just because you two don’t agree doesn’t mean that you are right and they are wrong. You just don’t think the same way.

    If you really love someone you’ll take the time to sit down and discuss what is bothering each of you and because you have taken the time to really get to know them, you’ll understand why they feel the way they do. So many people miss this altogether which is why fights happen and misunderstandings occur.

    Thank you for sharing all of this and you always have such a way of explaining things and listing better ways we can take matters into our own hands.

    Thank you Harleena for always being the sound one for us all.

    ~Adrienne

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 2, 2012 at 11:35 am

      I share everything from my personal experiences and knowledge acquired, hoping it helps somebody somewhere. I’m glad you find my posts worthy, Adrienne!

      We all make mistakes sometime or the other, but what’s important is the lesson we learn from them. You’ve passed some valuable pieces of your wisdom – take time out to know the person. I agree that once we know the person, we can avoid misunderstanding as we become more sensitive and caring about the other person.

      In an argument people generally become ruthless and put all their energy and mind on trying to prove their point. Whereas, as you suggest, people should instead put their hearts out and try to understand each others’ point. And you’re right, when we’re upset, our thinking and understanding becomes restricted and we just want to hear what satisfies our frame of mind at that moment.

      I think that if you know that you’ve been careful and caring enough when you expressed yourself, and if even then people misunderstand you, then it is not your problem, but those people have a problem at hand with themselves, so you should not let that affect you.

      I agree that it is necessary for two people to try to come on the same page by talking it out and settle the differences. And as you point out, those in love would put their egos aside and do just that.

      Thank you for sharing your wonderful advice with all of us. :)

  17. Barry Wells

    October 2, 2012 at 1:21 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Your posts are very thought provoking and really make me sit and think. which is always a good thing. :)

    As a child I suffered a lot of misunderstanding and being misunderstood. My mum is deaf so communication was difficult at the best of times but when she was in a temper there really was no talking to her. With 4 boys to bring up on her own you can imagine why she got into a temper.

    I think that’s one of the major causes of misunderstanding. When people are in different frames of mind, we all tend to approach things differently depending on our mood. Quite often we can be listening to, or reading, something and we pick up on one sentence and whilst thinking about that we miss the next paragraph or verse which often leads to misunderstanding.

    Thanks Harleena, very thought provoking post :)

    Take care,
    Barry

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      I’m glad you like the post, Barry!

      Yes, I write my posts to make people think about the topics. I see lots of posts on the Internet that come with the solutions in form of “How-to’s” and “tips”, but I believe unless you understand the “why’s” and the problem at its root, you cannot really resolve them completely.

      I understand why your mother would’ve undergone lot of commotion, and you getting misunderstood due to lack of communication and miscommunication as well. And as you rightly point out, that is what happens in such cases – people are not in the same frame of mind.

      A good teamwork always has everybody thinking on the same page, having the same frame of mind. You cannot afford to have your mood swings, as that would affect the working of the team. The team members have to follow the same approach in order to have harmony. Similarly, people in a relationship should think of themselves as part of a team and try to be on the same page trusting each other. That should do a lot to avoid misunderstanding.

      Thanks for sharing your life experiences and understandings. :)

  18. Mayura

    October 2, 2012 at 4:10 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Misunderstandings can happen. Happened to me too :) I think as we are human beings, communication issues can happen and will lead to different issues. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pay attention and let it be whatever it is.

    I can recall few which happened to me online and the reason was the tone used in their writings. I misjudged ‘em. Usually I take some time out when such thing occurs and reply back with my normal tone. I mean, still I’m misunderstood, but reply asking about things what made me misunderstand.

    Most of times, when I get a reply back again, I could figure out it was totally misunderstanding I had and continue to deal with it further :) But sometimes it’s wrong. What I thought I misunderstood is right and then I ignore it.

    I think most times what I see on others is that they are not prepared to listen well. They just interrupt and claim their ideas. Also some just write and hit publish or send without reading the content once again. Personally I’ve experienced that some people just write their comments without reading the post :) I don’t understand why is that.

    I can recall one incident that happened to me. Once I commented on a blog, she removed my comment and I asked her why? She said “I don’t like Indians and any of their stuff”. I said “I’m not, and a Sri Lankan”. Then she got to know me well and approved the comment again. But I was wondered why she’s being ignoring Indians. I haven’t got exact answer but it may be personal something. Anyway I think it’s just being biased too much over something that happened to her. It happens among communities too, which could be very lethal. I had to experience lot of troubles from a group of Indian guys once on my blog too. My ads disapproved due to ‘em. But I’m not judging others by ‘em.

    Misunderstanding is such a simple word that could cause big troubles :) That’s really great you have made efforts finding possible causes and preventative measures, Harleena. I bet you did your homework well :)

    Cheers…

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 2, 2012 at 11:41 am


      Glad you like the post, Mayura!

      Yes, misunderstanding is a big word that causes big troubles. And, it can happen to anybody!

      I believe we need to be on guard all the time in the sense that we should carefully observe what we say and what others say. Misunderstandings, if they occur, should never be ignored, otherwise, as you say, it would lead to many different issues.

      You’ve suggested a very practical way of dealing with situations that have a potential of misunderstandings, incited by an unacceptable tone – have patience, hold your cool, wait for some time, do not react immediately, and reply with a normal tone asking the question to clear your doubts.

      I’ve observed that people who lack confidence or who are too egoist have problem listening, which is an essential part of the great art of communication. You miss that and you hurt the communication process. And you’re right, publishing on a blog is as good as you speaking out – so you need to choose your words carefully, if not, they might cause misunderstanding.

      If people comment without reading the post, I think it is only because they’re just interested in getting a link back or they just are trying to formally return a favor not wanting to spend much time. In such cases, I prefer not to ask a question, as I cannot force anybody to read my post!

      I think having a generalized prejudice or negative presumption is not good. You cannot attribute the qualities of one person or a part of society to the whole of society or the country. That only shows the level of understanding of the person having such views, and we cannot do anything about that but hope that the person learns and grows with time and experience.

      Life’s too short to get into such petty issues. We can best try to make ourselves better, and just hope we can avoid any misunderstandings with others. As you say, we need to be unbiased and non-judgmental.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences and your wonderful thoughts with all of us. :)

  19. farouk

    October 5, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    That’s a very important topic Harleena,

    Lack of proper communication is one of the most popular causes of social problems . Understanding one’s self is very important as well.

    Thank you :)

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Glad you could resonate with the topic, Farouk!

      Yes, that’s a very important point you mentioned – first understand yourself. Once we know why we misunderstand, we have better clue as to why we’re misunderstood. Such understanding changes our perspective and we’ve more chances of resolving such issues. Communication is no doubt critical in avoiding and resolving misunderstanding.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  20. Liz

    October 9, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    We all live in our own unique realities which have been formed through experience. Given this, it is impossible to always know what someone REALLY means. Even if they are the best communicators, and you are the best listener, there will always be a gap because we use words to convey thought, feelings, and experience. However, that being said, I do agree that the breakdown of your L-O-V-E recommendation does indeed help to fill this gap.

    I would add that when you are listening to someone it is good to repeat to that person what you heard. So many times we think we hear something when in fact it is in error. When you repeat what you’ve heard back to the person, then they will a) feel understood and b) be given a chance to clarify any errors.

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 9, 2012 at 10:28 pm

      Welcome to my blog, Liz!

      Yes, you’re absolutely right. We all have our own worlds based on self interpretations of life through our individual experiences. We all think, act, and perceive differently. Even the slightest of a gap in communication is sufficient for misunderstanding to creep in, and that really is a challenge for our communication skills.

      Your tips are very practical and logical. A simple habit of repeating what you’ve heard could eliminate any potential chances of misunderstanding to occur. An immediate clarification is much better than a clarification after a long period, because a time gap strengthens the misunderstanding.

      Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the post. :)

  21. bbrian017

    October 28, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    I had some times where people misunderstood me. I’m very short with my answers when people ask me stuff and via e-mail it comes off as being rude. It took me a long tie to get out of that habit so people dint’ think I was being rude. It always amazes me how text can be misunderstood so easily.

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      October 28, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      Glad you could relate to the post Brian!

      I can well understand what you mean to say, and it may sound rude too. I guess with so much on your hands it must be tough to find the time to always be polite and explain things in detail. However, nice to know that you are through that phase – and yes, perhaps the new addition in your family did that trick (congratulations!). We can never really know what might hurt another person, and it might not really be what we meant to say. That’s how misunderstandings really take place.

      Thanks for stopping by. Nice to have you over. :)

  22. King

    March 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    If you ask my opinion or tip for avoiding misunderstanding with others is simply to open up your mind.. doesn’t matter what you think, first of all one should be honest in every means and then communicate from heart to get rid of the disturbances which could not only help one in eliminating the problems more than that it helps us in being transparent and shows up the positive attitude we carry..

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      July 11, 2013 at 7:00 am

      Hi King,

      Oh yes…I agree with you there, though for some people it’s not very to open up, but that is the best way to avoid misunderstanding others. I think when there is transparency in the relationship everything falls well into place – isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  23. Nate Leung

    July 11, 2013 at 5:22 am

    I agree that you should always try to avoid misunderstandings with others. Most of the time if you are in an argument, listening is a hard thing to do. The acronym you shared L.O.V.E is a great way to avoid any type of misunderstanding. Always try to listen and understand where the person is coming from. Great article!

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      July 11, 2013 at 7:03 am

      Hi Nate,

      I totally agree with you there – listening IS the toughest part for most of us, it surely doesn’t come easy, but for those who can master the art, it surely is a boon. I’m glad you liked the acronym, which I think does say it all briefly.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views :)

  24. kanchan agarwal

    August 6, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Nice article… It will really help in having a warm relationship.

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      August 7, 2013 at 12:29 am

      Welcome to the blog Kanchan!

      Glad you liked the post, and yes, I hope it helps to avoid misunderstanding others and building a warm relationship.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

      BTW – Why don’t you get yourself a Gravatar so that we can see who we are talking to – just a friendly suggestion :)

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