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.