UNDERSTANDING MISUNDERSTANDING

You heard what I did not say,

But, you didn’t hear what I said.

 

You read what I did not write,

But, you didn’t read the message reflected in my eyes.

 

You thought your heart was close to mine,

But, you didn’t feel its beats as did I.

 

So easy it is for you to say what you say,

To do what you do and think what you think.

 

Without a care for my feelings,

Without considering all fervent appealing.

 

Put yourself, in my place, will you?

The truth will you see then, just as I do.

 

To hoist one’s voice obdurately,

Makes another’s eyes moist.

 

A failure to understand,

Leaves relationships bland.

 

Misunderstandings rob your peace and mine,

How can we then for God’s glory shine?

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JUDGING SOMEBODY WHILE BEING MISUNDERSTOOD

Misunderstandings are a part of everybody’s lives. The fact that we have a power to communicate – also becomes our weakness at times. Because if we do not communicate enough or understand words differently, misunderstandings are born.

English which is the most widely spoken language across the world and has different meaning for different people. Same words mean different things, how can it not be a problem when the world is becoming more or less flat. When so many MNCs are working together in US, Europe, India, China, Japan etc. Since I have worked with Americans, Russians, Dutch and Chinese people in my experience, I have understood one thing that even when discussions happen and we might come out of the meeting feeling elated that we could get the point through – it is very possible that nothing was agreed upon in the meeting and we ended up playing around with words. This has happened numerous times and will keep happening.

I was 21 years old when I joined the corporate world as a Software Engineer in one of the huge MNC’s. It is an American organization and hence very influenced by American language. I came from North India and was working with South Indians for the first time – another reason for misunderstandings to crop up. I was working with a guy of about 7-8 years of experience and he was my technical lead. He is an extremely polite guy and speaks very softly.

When he started assigning work to me, it was easy to understand because I just had to do it. But when I started to encounter issues that I could not resolve, I would go to him with a problem. He always intended to tell me a few things to try out and then get back to him with a proposal as to what is the best solution. He did spend a lot of time initially with me to make me understand how to really try out things but later he expected me to be on my own (obviously!)

I found it strange but when the time came for me to try out things on my own, he typically used to say “Can we try this particular format of data?” or “Can we try to build the solution again?” etc. What he meant to say was that “Can you try this particular format of data and get back to me with results?” but he always used “We” instead of “You”. This was partly his politeness and partly American influence.

Every time he said “Can we try so and so?” – I heard “Let us find time, sit together and try this out”. Whereas he meant something completely different. Of course, I kept waiting for him to come to me so that “We” could try something out and he kept waiting for me to come with the results. Eventually, both of us got frustrated as expected. I was frustrated because I felt he wasn’t giving me enough freedom to try things on my own and he was frustrated because he felt that I wasn’t performing.

One fine day, my manager calls me asks me if I was facing any issues in understanding the product or code. I replied in negative and told him I am quite comfortable learning at this pace. Then he said why you aren’t coming up with solutions that was when I realized what I had misunderstood. “I” was supposed to do it not “We”. That was an eye opener. I told the misunderstanding to my manager who then called my lead and got the air cleared up. We all laughed at the silly misunderstanding. And I managed to work well with that guy finally.

This was though a light incident, it had the potential to become something huge. Both I and my lead were judging each other’s capabilities in our roles while misunderstanding the words.

Mostly this is the case, we don’t realize how much we understood the other person but we begin to judge instantly. It sometimes helps to ask a lot of questions (at the cost of sounding stupid) but it is needed just so everybody remains on the same page.

There used to be game that we used to play as kids. It was called “Pass the message”. We would have some long messages kept in a box. The first member was supposed to pick up a message and read it him/herself. Then he/she had to tell the message to his/her team member privately. This team member would then pass on the message to the next one and so on. Once the last person in the team gets the message, he was supposed to write it down. It was always a lot of fun to see how the final message was as compared to the original one. Mostly it would be highly manipulated and would mean something else completely. Every team member then had a chance to explain where the meaning of the message got lost. The team with the most similarity between final and original message would win.

Of course, this was supposed to be a fun game but it very clearly defines that misunderstandings are part and parcel of our lives. We cannot possibly communicate without misunderstanding each other. However, we can always try to reduce them by certain best practices. And most importantly, we must learn to forgive each other once the misunderstandings are cleared.

WHAT CAUSES ‘MISUNDERSTANDING’?

Misunderstandings

One cannot communicate

If the words are incoherent

There’s so much distance

Between the mind and heart

Impossible to traverse

Communication a distant dream

Words create a haze

Unaware of the growing chasm

Only heard are echoes of agony

I stumbled upon this particular poem by Jyoti Soni on WordPress which justifies what I wanted to present in this article.

The world and the societies in it were created and built upon relationships. And communication is absolutely important in each and every relationship. The moment there’s problem in the communication or there’s communication gap in a relationship it starts to rift apart. A perfect example of which was given on Sunday by Rajnandini in her article. The teacher in that article misunderstood Rajnandini and was devastated blaming her to be at fault. The relationship was breached though later it was restored.

But my question here is what caused misunderstanding in the above example? It was a mixture of her situation and pride which breed ego then it gave birth to misunderstanding. As a result of which she was angry and hurt. If she would have been little humble and asked the students about her share of badge or asked Rajnandini  directly about it then things would have been different.

Now, don’t misunderstand me here. I am not blaming her to be at fault or judging her. I just want to state how misunderstanding surfaced in that whole event.

This is an incident which took place between two colleagues. Let’s talk about marriage where the level of relationship is bit higher.

Marriage is such an institution where husband and wife are expected to be transparent to each other. There are so many examples of misunderstandings being evolved between spouses when a husband tries to do something secretly to surprise his wife and the wife suspects her husbands of doing something fishy behind her back. It can be other way around as well where a husband distrusts his wife.

Here, distrust gave birth to misunderstanding. If he or she would have just trusted their spouses in whatever they do then things would have been very easy and less complicated.

The third causes of misunderstanding is preconceived ideas about certain person or in single word we can wrapped it up as Prejudice. Aastha‘s article displayed an incident where preconceived idea and prejudice gave birth to misunderstanding between two persons spoiling a relationship.

In my marriage we both husband and wife know each other’s background, each other’s habits and behavioural patterns quite a lot if not absolutely everything. So we usually keep thinking about each other or misunderstanding each other basing on the knowledge we have about each other. My wife always tells me one thing… “Never weigh my works or activities based on my weaknesses. Never take advantage of my weaknesses“. That was her insecurity for which she says that but it was a valid warning for all. We actually should not react or respond negatively by misunderstanding someone’s ability just because we have little knowledge about that person.

So friends, let’s not ego, distrust and preconception breed misunderstanding among us or else a scenario as described by Jyoti Soni will be created within all our relationships.

Keep reading… Keep learning!

Stay Blessed!

IGNORE MISUNDERSTANDINGS, IF YOU WANT TO MOVE AHEAD

When I was given this topic to write about, I just let my thoughts wander around to find out which incident is right to put up here.

Yes, I had numerous instances in life, where I was misunderstood, but yes, Time is a real healer, which showed up, the real me to all.

There was a past me- a totally immature one, who got upset about being misunderstood most of the times, other than weeping, there was no other go. At times I even recollect bursting out too. There was not much support as all the fingers pointed out to me.

Seems the friction of all these blame and misunderstanding, I became more like a polished one outshining all the blame games. I am still on the learning path of ignoring these delusions that are happening to me.

If you are silent, you create a false impression that you are rude, polite and even showing attitude.

If you are talkative, then you are confounded as a flirt and an outgoing person.

If you are aloof, then you are misunderstood as a loner, heartbroken, useless and hard-hearted.

If we are polite, then you are flirting.

People judge my writings at times, There was an instance at which an anonymous person, began posting outrageous comments on my blogs, which was not only insulting me but others who were commenting on my posts. I was shocked for a while by the person’s mere indignity.

It disturbed me for a while :

I write, as it is my passion and my writing may or may not reflect my life. Yet judging my character on that basis was totally an irrelevant act. At first, I decided to post replies to the comments stating my anger.

Yet, the mature (i consider myself at times) me was holding me back. I decided to ignore.

I began my writing to liberate my thoughts about life. But misunderstanding me for the thoughts I pour in my writing was totally an insult to me.

I do know misunderstandings happen, yet at times the mind is uncontrollable to suffer the pain. I understood that giving time, is rather the right approach to tackle it.

I believe – that explaining is at times worthless.

A misunderstood mind, is unable to interpret, what the others want to convey. It will be like talking to a person with a loud drum played in the background.

A disturbed mind is never the right time and place to converse.

It is true that :

Image result for misunderstanding quotes

Yet, At times it is hard to convince them.

I firmly believe,

Hence, never struggle to convince you are right- Time will show who is right and who is wrong. Maybe for a split second of time, the other person might be right, as he misunderstands us, with his/ her own perspective of thoughts. Struggling ourselves to convince the other when there is a cloud of confusion, is a wasted effort.

To conclude :

CAN WE CORRECT MISUNDERSTANDINGS?

Last week, I was overloaded with work and also at the same time had so many commitments to fulfill on personal front. When such situations arise, we do display our natural emotions frustrations, anger, disguise etc..

One of my colleague’s came up to my desk, he called me by name twice, I was deeply drowned into my work, his voice had little effect on me. He repeated in a more louder voice this time, “if you don’t mind, can I have a minute of yours ?”

I don’t know what was going through me, I just reacted with a higher modulated tone, “Look, I have a lot of work, we are two days away from the release, barely I am getting time to sleep, can you please keep your points crisp?”. I was almost straight on his face while I was uttering these words, though my fingers did not stop playing with my keyboard.

He was gentle in his tone, with enthusiasm, he started explaining what he did today as if it was an achievement.. I really get irritated with people who are irresponsible and he is one of them, I display no patience to listen to him because he wastes a lot of time in telling the same preface of the story a hundred times. There was only one thought on my mind, “Oh, What does he want me to recognize ? The fact that he is also working ???”, well, true that is something to be acknowledged for, for a lazy person like him. I snapped back, “Are we done ? I need to catch-up for my next meeting ?”, he asked if I could spend 10 minutes after my meeting. Well, by this time my anger was at the next level, I replied “may be”, and I completely left  that matter.

Last Friday in a meeting with bigger audience, he has brought up the same topic again, I was paying no attention to him as I am well aware of his ‘prefaces’. What happened next is most interesting, he told the meeting attendees of the task he accomplished.

I asked him, “Who helped you do it?”,

He said, “I did it on my own”

“Stop joking, let’s get back to work, who has helped you, I would like to learn that too”

He reiterated, “It’s me!!”

“Really?”

“yes yes” …

I could not believe myself, but I was guilty at the same time to have said something that rude to him.

I never really paid interest the other day or now, that itself is disrespecting him no matter how his past history was, on top of it I asked the same question twice for reconfirmation. I apologized to have misunderstood his efforts to be of someone else’s.

All of us misunderstand or were misunderstood at some point of time because of a pre-formed opinion. Yes, in this case, I had an opinion that he was lazy, never really has an interest to work, always takes help from others and takes the credit onto his own. I have seen him behave so, so may be it was my immediate reaction.

I am very bad with communication and expressing myself, by nature I am straight forward, so the chances of me being misunderstood are really high and it hurts me deep. It hurts me deeper when I misunderstand someone because I have made them feel unloved or uncared  in some way, I cannot really hold on to that feeling for long, unless I admit it. 

The two main reasons I feel we are often misunderstood is because of bias and our past. We tend to forget the most important, the present and the future that can be totally ruined due to misunderstandings. Past may not be relevant in the present or define our future, even then, we continue to give it more value. Nothing, wrong it is wise to do so, but not always.

It is absolutely fine to be misunderstood. Explain yourself only to an extent, to an extent until the other is ready to listen, ready to stand in your shoes to understand your point of view. Once, twice or may be more depending on how important the relationship is, but remember there is a point at which you need to stop this. If the person is happy to stay biased with their own understanding of you, then let them be…” – I told myself after a recent experience that nearly broke me to pieces… We cannot change anyone by force, similarly we cannot correct a misunderstanding because we know we are right, it can only happen when the other person gives us a chance.

“Misunderstanding – A “Missed Understanding” because of the human preference to Assumption over Clarification.” 
― Drishti Bablani

MISUNDERSTANDINGS…EHM..EHM…

To misunderstand and to be misunderstood are two sticky roadblocks to stumble upon. And as the age old saying goes – ‘A stitch in time saves nine’,  small misunderstandings resolved early and duly prevent major conflicts. No one can claim to be immune from misunderstandings, no matter how well you manage the relationships around you.

A beautiful relationship does not merely depend on how well we understand someone; but, it also depends on how well we avoid/handle misunderstandings.

Let me share a misunderstanding of which I was a victim just a month back.

It was World Mental Health Day (October 10). The theme for this year was – Mental Health at the Workplace. As a Counsellor and Psychology teacher, I had trained some of the senior students to make the day special for all the teaching and non-teaching staff at school. One of their tasks was to meet each staff personally, greet him/her and pin a badge onto them. The badges were beautifully designed and had lines of encouragement and appreciation printed on them. It was a big task for the students and took them a whole day to cover all the staff. Meanwhile, they were being appreciated for their gesture. So far so good.

Almost towards the end, they went to the Music Department. There they pinned the badge onto one teacher and left out the other teacher thinking that they had already given her in the morning as they had seen her in the corridor. That was an open invitation for disaster!! Though I had not accompanied the students all through the school, I was standing outside the Music Department just at that time!

The teacher who was left out, felt humiliated and burst out accusing me of being partial. She wouldn’t understand when I tried explaining that there was absolutely no question of any partiality at all, but just a mistaken assumption on the part of the students. It was quite a scene! She refused to accept a badge which I personally offered her. I felt very bad as the intention was to make the staff feel good and special, but it made somebody upset instead. Also, I felt her reaction to be a bit childish as she is a very senior faculty and has always been a motherly figure towards many.

I went back to her after ten minutes and found her in tears narrating the whole episode to another staff. I gave her a hug and apologised for the whole incident, all the while reiterating that it was just a mistaken assumption of the students and no further meaning ought be attached to it. What she told me in response, made me see sense to her reaction. She said that her husband has been struggling with depression for years now. As a result she and her children have had a very tough life (I didn’t know this at all as she is always jolly and offers a word of encouragement to all around). On knowing that a day has been designated to recognize mental health, she felt very happy and was eagerly waiting all through the day for the students to come up to her with the token. So on being ignored and that too in the presence of another staff who was being given the badge, she felt shattered within.

Though it helped put the pieces together, I felt really bad to know the reason behind her reaction. I, once again apologized gave her a hug and offered a badge. This time she accepted it and said that she held nothing against me….it was just an outburst of long suppressed emotions. And she has been normal with me, as before from that time onwards.

I don’t get into misunderstandings often. But, do bump into some such episodes at times. No amount of caution can ever guarantee anybody that misunderstandings will never happen.

So then, what causes misunderstandings?

  1. Expectations and lack of fulfillment of them
  2. Prejudices and stereotypes
  3. Lack of complete understanding on an issue
  4. Rigidity and lack of flexibility to yield
  5. Self-centered (I, me, my) attitude
  6. Emotional baggage
  7. Denial of a root cause
  8. Displacement of response from one person/situation to another
  9. Being influenced by others
  10. Impulsive and thoughtless reactions

The above list is not exhaustive and I’m sure if we think carefully about each of these points, we will find enough incidents of our own to relate to.

Is there a way out?

Well, as I have mentioned before, no one can claim immunity from misunderstandings. Even if you are the most self-controlled, tolerant and peaceable person around, someone or the other, some incident or the other is bound to provoke you sooner or later.

One of the best way out is negotiation according to the merit of the case. Forgiving and seeking forgiveness helps iron out differences. There are enough instances where people not agreeing on major issues have continued to live peacably with each other. So, its not altogether undoable. But yes, settling misunderstandings requires the cooperation of both the parties involved. In the absence of cooperation from either of the parties, misunderstandings tend to persist and even blow out of proportion thus causing great damages.

Resolve to be understanding. Take care to negotiate. Don’t hold things against others for long. Above all, pray for the difficult people in your life. Its only God who can transform the hearts of men!