The Origins of Misunderstanding
I am currently in Uruguay on a mission trip. (Got to www.UruguayMissions.com to follow that blog)
An interesting conversation occurred today that brought a little revelation about our inability to communicate. I thought it might be beneficial, so I am sharing.
We were discussing teenagers when I expressed my frustration over my 20 year old daughter. I often want to offer a solution to a problem she complains about only to wind up running against the wall of “independence.”
I likened it to watching her hit her toe with a hammer and complaining about it. When I point out she’s hitting her toe with a hammer, she cries out, “you’re mean!”
My point was how she sometimes wants to complain with no focus on a solution, and how hard that is for me to handle. (My wife is the plain listener, I am the listener/fixer.)
One of the ladies on the trip jumped into the conversation explaining how women just need to be heard. I tried to point out that if there is no desire for a solution I eventually become quite frustrated.
I even said, “My children are allowed to come to me with anything as long as they are respectful and are solution oriented.”
Her response was, “I hope the next time you go to God with a problem He doesn’t want to listen and tells you to figure it out yourself.”
I apparently struck a nerve in her past that was sensitive. And although slightly offended, I will easily move forward with my day.
However, it made me realize how our baggage, misinterpretations and our assumptions really keep us from effectively understanding the people around us.
Most people don’t take the time to listen and ask the necessary questions to fully understand another person’s perspective; the reason they are saying what they are saying.
When we do not, we are fully reliant on our limited past and incomplete comprehension of the other person to filter their words.
That is where I believe most confusion and conflict arises.
Today, ask for clarification before arguing or airing your disappointment in another. Take the time to understand the person you are speaking with instead of demanding your perspective to be the only one.
When you do, you might find if you looked through their “glasses” into their world you would actually agree with their perspective. If not, there is always time to disagree.
Who knows, you might even gain a little more appreciation for the world you are privileged to live in.