When You're Misunderstood
I was having a conversation with my bestie the other day when she asked an interesting question:
“Do we like to think we are understanding but still choose to see what we want to see?”
The question came about when we were discussing how difficult it is to have discussions with people who are hard-headed, argumentative and always seem to misunderstand what the other person is saying because they’re talking with the sole objective to voice out their views and not understand the other person.
The reason they often misunderstand the other person is because they aren’t looking to exchange views or learn about the other person’s point-of-view, they simply want to exert their views on the person. Being an introvert and an empath, I’m extra sensitive towards these kinds of personalities due to the kind of energy they give off.
Having said that, the scenario I just mentioned can still happen to the best of people. To an extent, we all see what we want to see. Our perceptions are coloured by our unique experiences and personalities therefore being able to understand people for what they truly mean is not always a straight-forward task.
Due to past experiences, I often choose my words very carefully to minimise any misunderstandings but here’s the thing: You can’t control how people choose to interpret your words. I’ve posted things which to me, were not controversial in the slightest, but it still ruffled some feathers. Or sometimes, I post about something which is very positive only for someone to imply I’m saying something completely different. It’s like pulling a bunny out of a magician’s hat—people can make assumptions out of nothing!
You really can’t win when it comes to people who already have a fixed way of thinking or if they secretly don’t like you. I think the best way to deal with this is to just accept that people believe what they want to believe. It’s a reflection of how they are rather than how you are.
My bestie then said something very noble: “I want to always be cognisant of how I sound and treat others.”
Confession: I had to google what cognisant means. Haha. Can I just say: I’m still improving my command in the English language? It’s important to always check the definitions of words when you don’t understand them. That’s the only way you can improve your strength in a language.
Before I go off topic: Cognisant means having awareness or knowledge in something. So my bestie is saying she wants to always be aware of how her words are interpreted and how she makes others feel.
When speaking to someone face-to-face, it’s far easier to see how our words can impact others because we can see it in their faces and body language. These days, however, most of our communication takes place on the screens of our smartphones via emails, instant-messaging and social media platforms. It’s not as easy to predict how our words can make someone feel and it’s also easy to not care especially when it takes just a few seconds to type a whole sentence.
Beyond Our Control
I’ve learned that how YOU think you sound like is one thing but how others think you sound like is another. People see things as they want to and it’s not always possible to control how others choose to see us. Nonetheless, it’s always important to treat people well and do our best to prevent misunderstandings.
The key is to be gentle and I can’t think of a human more gentle than Rasulullah ﷺ. I believe if we are gentle in the delivery of our message, it’s easier for our words to be received by others. Gentleness is a good thing in most circumstances. If you’re going to force your opinions down other people’s throats, is it really any surprise that people won’t take it so well?
Possessing good communication skills or people skills, whatever you call it, takes practice. Sometimes we make more errors than we would like to admit but to be human is to err. A good friend will always advise you nicely and will find ways to help you be better when you’re not at your best.
I’m grateful for that conversation I had with my bestie. ❤️