What Dale meant was, “Can we run both showers at the same time?” What I heard was, “Can we shower together?” George Barnard Shaw sure got it right when he said, “The problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Dale and I had a good laugh about what happened but it gave me pause to wonder how many times were we under the illusion that communication had taken place when, in truth, it had not.
It happens in all relationships—you just flat out misunderstand the simplest of communications. And as if that weren’t enough of a problem, we all have filters through which we hear things. If Joe observes, “The rice is salty,” and Sally hears, “You’re a terrible cook,” she’s interpreting his statement-of-fact comment through her low self-esteem filter to hear criticism that’s not there. It’s this filtering that leads to unexpressed grudges and resentment as well as arguments that start something like this:
“You said (fill in the blank).”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did.”
“No, I didn’t!”
“Well, in so many words you did!”
When you find yourself tweaked over something your sweetheart said, be absolutely certain—before you blow a gasket—that you’re not under the illusion that communication has taken place when it hasn’t. If you find yourself doing an in-so-many-words analysis of something your sweetheart says, there’s a darned good chance you’re misinterpreting through a distortion-causing filter. When, as a result of something your partner says, you feel angry or hurt, use those emotions as teaching moments, opportunities to discover filters that need to be tossed out. In the example given above, if Sally often hears criticism in what Joe says, it’s possible that he really is critical. It’s also very possible that Sally needs to work on her self-esteem so she can stop hearing nonexistent criticism.
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