Monday, May 24, 2010

Did you hear what I said?

Just because I said something does not mean that you understood what I said in the way I meant it

So often in human affairs this situation arises

We think that we are in agreement

We thought we were playing by the same rules of language

We thought we understood each other

Then we find out that the other party understood differently

We did not speak the same language

Or more precisely we spoke the same language with different interpretations of what we both meant

In our lives we will face these situations

When it is important write down what was said

Exchange copies and get agreement as to what was agreed

Use the famous phrase "unless I hear the the contrary I will understand that you agree with what I have written"

Sometimes it sounds too formal, however it can save a lot of grief in the long run

Miscommunications are the bane of our communications with each other

Feuds in families start from these miscommunications

Companies find themselves in court

Politicians spin their way out of trouble all day long communicating ambiguously and deliberately miscommunicating 

Governments spin as a matter of deliberate daily miscommunications

Others play on ambiguities that allow them to later deny and spin

They do so knowingly as a tactic, ask any lawyer

Indeed many lawyers live on the minutiae of miscommunications

Life is not fair but we can make it clearer

So do not assume that you both understand the same thing from words uttered

Ask is this what you really mean?

Ask what have you understood from what I have said?

Do not expect the other party to have your understanding of your communication unless you have confirmed that this is so

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