Misunderstanding, it’s just not a word, it’s a negative phenomenon that we all face not once but several times in our lives. What is Misunderstanding if I may ask? It is the absence of understanding.

It is the presence of confusion, error in expression and misconception that leads to misinterpretation. Misunderstandings are not unavoidable, they are bound to happen, but what can be avoided are the consequences if we only decide not to be impulsive and egoistic and make sure that what we made out of the given situation was correct. But more often than not we do just the very opposite and get hurt, and that hurt leads to our self-respect pushing our ego never to clear our doubts, and we tend to lose some of the most beautiful moment and relations in life.

I will tell you a small story here about Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Prize winner for Literature and the writer of Gitanjali. He was sitting on a wicker chair on his porch under the shade of a Neem tree in the blistering summer heat one day when a newspaper reporter came to interview him. He met the reporter with a smile and offered him a seat under the tree. The reporter began the interview while he felt soothed by the cool shade and aromatic breeze.

The reporter’s eyes fell on a crystal glass kept by Gurudev side from which he was sipping every few minutes. The reporter’s insides stirred and his mouth watered to see the emerald liquid with ice droplets around the glass. Gurudev noticed this and called a domestic help and asked for a small glass of the same drink for the reporter with an amused smile. The reporter was taken aback and hurt by Gurudev’s words, the thoughts in his mind read “Such a noble personality and such small heart. He is drinking from a large glass while he ordered a small one for me?” The interview went on as a maid brought a small chilled glass of the emerald liquid and placed it next to the reporter. He thanked her and took the first sip.

To his horror, the juice was bitter as hell, and he had to spit it. He looked up at Gurudev who was smiling and said: “I relish one cold glass of Bitter Gourd juice every day and I ordered the same for you but in smaller quantities, as I knew it would be tough for you to finish it.”

This story made me smile. I wonder what impression the reporter would have carried with him had he not tasted the juice. I think the lesson I got from this story is that to know the whole truth and all aspects and facets of anything said or done to you that seems unjust or wrong or partial shall first be analysed and assessed correctly and for that, you have to sip that swallow that bitter sip of your ego and pride and know the whole facts.


Many times I have been subjected to misunderstandings. Many times I have misunderstood others. I will share one such incident with you all. My brother and I were sitting in a posh, high-end restaurant and having dinner on the day he got his first salary as it was his treat. It was a candlelit dinner, and a singer was singing romantic songs on the stage and me, as per my habit were sending request after request for more gazals. Bro and I laughed and shared lots of stuff, jokes, memories as we ate through the excellent dinner when a small girl came up to us and gave me a rose and told: “You both are an awesome couple.” I held the rose as I gaped open-mouthed at her, so did my brother. We both looked around carefully and noticed that most of the people there were giving us admiring looks thinking we were a couple in love. It embarrassed me to the core, and I could not look in my brother’s eyes when he stood up and said in a loud voice with a kind smile “An applause everybody for the beautiful gazals handpicked by my even prettier sister here.” In a moment all the faces lost their smiles, and it came back to their lips a bit differently as they all applauded and I my and bro exchanged a fond smile.

That’s the thing about misunderstandings. They need to be cleared then and there before they snowball into something disastrous. My brother’s gesture saved me from having to think twice before going out with him ever again.

Remember, discuss more, judge less!


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.



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!


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!!”


“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