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Posts Tagged ‘Misunderstanding’

#Communication. It's Only Words

Image courtesy of nashontechnology.blogspot.com

 

“From this point forth, we shall be leaving the firm foundation of fact and journeying together through the murky marshes of memory into thickets of wildest guesswork.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Have you ever stopped to wonder why words cause so many difficulties? After all they’re only words, the means by which we convey our thoughts and feelings. Yet so many times, what is a simple and forgettable word to one person, can be a veritable insult to another. Is it any wonder that there are so many hurt feelings and arguments over what we mean by the words we say to each other?

Many are the words uttered in anger, or whilst feeling under pressure or stress. Do these words mean the same thing if they were said whilst calm and unpressured? I rather doubt it. At least, that has been my observation.

Computers and computer programs, have the singular honour of creating the most intense feelings of frustration for many people, even over minor matters. They are such contrary machines, aren’t they? Some days, no matter how hard you try, or follow the same steps you followed the day before, the wretched program refuses to behave as it should. You’re blood pressure rises and you can feel the irritation begin to mount.

In retrospect, it is at this point that the rest of the household, or office, should embark for points north, south, east of west. Anywhere, in fact, to avoid the likely wrath to come. But no, everyone remains and the ensuing eruption of heightened emotion spills over and someone ends up feeling hurt or misunderstood.

#Communication - It's Only Words

Image courtesy of sherwoodfleming.com

“Using words to talk of words is like using a pencil to draw a picture of itself, on itself. Impossible. Confusing. Frustrating … but there are other ways to understanding.”
Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

The irony is, the person struggling with the computer, or any appliance which is being contrary, should simple mutter under their breath, except….. Someone is sure to ‘demand’ that they repeat what they have just said. I can almost guarantee that the word “Stupid” will form part of the epithet. Guaranteed!   What’s even more certain, is that the person listening is going to hear that they are being called stupid. It may even sound as though that was the intention. Yet I am positive that the intention is that the computer, program, appliance, even the operator of the machine is really saying they are stupid for not getting it to work correctly. Perhaps if the person offering assistance has already pushed their help on the struggling and irate digitally challenged person, then they may mean they feel, momentarily that they are stupid for not being able to offer the solution.

However, I’m sure if you were able to ask that person what they meant, they would not have been accusing or abusing the other person of being stupid. Now we have a recipe for an even more bitter and disastrous interchange to occur. The mountain of misunderstanding rises moment by moment.

#Communication - It's Only Words
Image courtesy of twiki.org          No wonder my head hurts at times.

Now we have a struggling computer person, who is definitely not nerdy, feeling even more stupid themselves, plus the person offering to help, when they should have left well enough alone, feeling hurt and offended, because they feel they’ve been abused and called stupid. What a disastrous state of affairs. Why? Because of words. Words should be used to enlighten, to assist, to love and cherish, foster loving feelings and calm hurt ones, not to abuse and enrage. A classic case of miscommunication.

So where now? Somehow, through this veritable minefield of the English language, two people have to tread warily, and hope they can untangle this knotted ball of wool. I had a ball of wool recently, so knotted up that it took two hours to untangle it… I wasn’t sure I had the patience but I did succeed in the end. I know for a fact that I cursed that wool roundly and often – without it taking offense. Luckily for me!

#Communication - It's Only Words

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“I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.”
Jane Wagner, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

Human emotions are not as easy as a ball of wool. You can’t hurt the feelings of a ball of wool. You may chop it into pieces if it is really annoying and tangled, but it isn’t going to be hurt or upset. Yet here we have two people who have to walk a tightrope and hope they reach an understanding. Why is the English language so fraught with traps? What is meant by one is not meant by another and this misunderstanding of the use of the same word can cause irreparable damage. Someone, at some time, definitely did not like people conversing.

So, I’m about to try to walk the minefield of knotted logic and understanding and hope I can get my point of view across and understand theirs, so that harmony can flower in the home once more. What puzzles me the most, is that we are speaking the same language. It isn’t as though we are talking different languages and it is an interpretation problem. Or perhaps it is. Perhaps that is the missing key.

English has been added to over the centuries, as the various conquerors have added their offerings to the base language and idioms. In retrospect, it’s not surprising there are so many misunderstandings. Perhaps I should go back to school and study English again, although I fear everyone may need to so we can all be on the same wavelength.

#Communication - It's Only Words
Image courtesy of http://www.iusb.edu    Build the base for communication.

“Oh what a wicked web we weave”. My aching head is going to bed. Good intentions will succeed in the end – survival depends on it.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Nelson Mandela

Very wise words.

 

Blessings, Susan.♥

© Susan Jamieson. August 2014

 

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image from ofwordsandwings.com

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”   Rudyard Kipling

A short while ago I wrote a series of blogs about Voice Dialogue, by Hal and Sidra Stone.  They talk mainly about different sub personalities and how they can interact within ourselves and with others given the right circumstances. In a memorable film called “The three Faces of Eve“, the film showed how certain ways of talking could bring out this persons differing personalities.  It made me consider the power words have in our lives and what can be triggered by the way they are used.

Everyone likes compliments, encouragement and appreciation for their efforts. It gives you a buzz and even if the task has been difficult you feel it was worthwhile. You are willing to overlook ill feelings which may have come up because of pressure to get the job done, or having to work late. Even harsh words said are often forgiven in the haze of good will that the praise has created. In Voice Dialogue terms, we moved from Angry/Resentful worker to Happy/Fulfilled employee. The “boss” has moved from the Tyrant to the Good Guy.

How has this happened? It has all been accomplished by how the words which were spoken were said, their tone and how they were received. You see, even the most innocent of words if received incorrectly can engender feelings of hurt and resentment.

“You KNOW I don’t want those papers there, put them OVER HERE!  Such a simple sentence can be heard in many ways. If heard as a criticism the worker will be upset and possibly angry. If heard as a stressed response from their boss they may feel sympathy for them. If the Harried worker was feeling tired, worrying about home, they may not have seen the Stressed boss. They may not know the pressure being applied to them to get the job finished.

Misunderstandings occur every day, mostly with those we interact with often, with family and those we care about. These are the times when words can wound and create fear, loathing and hate.  Others can, of course, bring feelings of love, warmth, healing and adoration.

Words are a miracle in and of themselves. They are only letters strung together and have been given meanings by others. As we are taught to use them they are given emotions to attach to them. Depending on our experiences they can be good or bad.

image from http://www.dw.de

As my children were growing up there was a new technique encouraged for parents, called the “Speaker Listener Technique”.  Each time the “speaker” said something the “listener” had to repeat it back using their own words. That is, not repeating what had been said but what had been understood. It was effective, but it slowed communication down dreadfully.

We each have our own method of communicating with others, with the world at large and it will not appeal to everyone. Yet this simple statement is a description of a battleground of sorts.

There are people who manage to speak in carefully controlled tones at all times, seemingly never getting upset or annoyed over anything. They often dislike hearing anyone raise their voice. The almost polar opposite is the person who, if agitated by events, will raise their voice, perhaps even resort to a curse or two if they are really upset. It is a stress relief mechanism. It may not be appreciated by everyone but it may be the way they have found to release that build up of emotional pressure. However, if the calmly spoken person really takes offense at the loud tone, it can have ramifications.

Who is right and who is wrong? Is there a right or wrong or is it simply the way people have learned to communicate?  If the person who, under pressure resorts to loud words is told that it affects the calmly spoken person will they feel constrained to change? Will it alter their real nature by having to submerge their pressure relief system? Will they feel lessened by the other person because of the criticism?

image from litreactor.com

There are  hundreds, if not thousands of variants in between these two communication styles. Hundreds if not thousands of sub personalities pulling the strings to bring these interactions about.  When we lash out in anger or hurt we always have to face the consequences. If we are willing to do that we can overcome the fallout from it. It is only when we cannot pursue a resolution that the ‘injury’ festers and becomes something more.

I firmly believe that we, and only we give words power, to either hurt or heal. Our current world is conducted at breakneck speed, often with little time to consider all possibilities of a statement. Everyone needs to accept that word usage has changed our language and misunderstandings happen – frequently.

I know of one person who spent several decades afraid to speak their own mind, to show their emotions in word or deed and when they were finally free of the constraining force, found there was an explosion of stress released. Sometimes the force of the communication came at the wrong time and was misinterpreted. This person then began to retreat back inside their shell for fear of being judged harshly. They were afraid they would be deemed ‘unworthy’ or less in some way. Their hurt or anger is now turned inwards which is unhealthy and unhelpful for that person.

We must all look at how we communicate, how our words are intended and received and if they are received in a way unintended then it is our responsibility to correct it – sooner rather than later. We must all shoulder the responsibility to teach by example that words are powerful and expression is allowed – yet we must also ask ourselves if we are being judgmental because of our beliefs and our criticism unwarranted. Sub personalities or simple communication styles. We all need to learn more. Perhaps if we learn to communicate in a better way, words will not be weapons wounding at times.

Learning is a lifetime occupation. We can only do that by communicating with others.

“There exists, for everyone, a sentence – a series of words – that has the power to destroy you. Another sentence exists, another series of words, that could heal you. If you’re lucky you will get the second, but you can be certain of getting the first.”
Philip K. Dick, VALIS

May all our words be great ones, and all our intentions be from the heart.

Blessings,   Susan

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