Oprah and Miscommunication

We’ve all heard that miscommunication can be a major source of difficulty.  We’ve also all experienced it, whether we recognize it or not.  I saw an episode of Oprah recently that is a perfect example of the communication problems we experience.  The episode was a discussion between Oprah and Iyanla Vanzant (http://www.oprah.com/showinfo/A-No-Holds-Barred-Conversation-with-Expert-Iyanla-Vanzant ).  Iyanla had been a relationship expert appearing weekly on the show giving advice on self-improvement.  After a particular discussion, Iyanla left the show and they didn’t speak again.

As I watched the show I felt like I could have been sitting in my office watching any two people in a relationship struggling with the difficult feelings miscommunication can create.  I remember thinking this would be an excellent video to go through with someone, a group, a class to demonstrate how significantly miscommunication can disrupt a relationship.  This is a bit of an extreme example.  I believe they didn’t speak for over 10 years.  Miscommunication doesn’t necessarily lead to the end of a relationship, but it frequently causes hurt feelings.  Actually, over time, with years of miscommunication, it often does lead to the end of a relationship…divorce.

Miscommunication isn’t just about the person who is saying something.  It’s a two part process.  One person is saying or doing something and the receiver is interpreting it based on their own ideas….about themselves, the situation, how their feeling, or the expectation they have about the person or the situation.  I’m sure most of you can relate to being in a conversation with someone when one of you said something and the other person heard something quite different.

So, the next time you find yourself reacting in a conversation take a breath then ask for clarification.  Don’t try to interpret.  Remember, you both bring in your own ideas and expectations that have the potential to lead to hurt feelings and misunderstandings.

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2 comments on “Oprah and Miscommunication”

  1. I saw this Oprah as well.....it so reminded me of so many times I have been in a situation of miscommunication....there were several that I had said something and the other person got so mad they refused to talk to me. My recollection of the conversation confused me because I went over and over it in my head and could not figure out what I had said. I think the worst for me was that the other person refused to talk to me about it...and refused to tell me what I said wrong. One relationship was more than 11 years ago and still today I have no idea what really happened. Fortunately for me, with help, I realized that it was really not anything I did, but more about something going on with the other person. I eventually stopped blaming myself and was able to see that sometimes the other person takes what we say in such a different way than we mean, and because of where they are in their life, they end the friendship.

    It is so much easier when someone says something that hurts your feelings, to get clarification from them before we try to figure it out ourselves. Seems to me our hurt feelings takes over and we can sometimes make the situation worse.

    Thank you Peggy for teaching me this. So valuable in my life.

  2. Thank you Tracy! Great example of the difficulty with communication when people are unaware and possibly unwilling to take a step back from their reaction.

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