Language is such a special gift–each word and sentence can have different nuances, different meanings depending on who expresses them and their cultural context. How easily we forget that each word can be received as a gift or as a punch. Plus, as my friend Barbara Cave Henricks reminds me, “critics lurk at every door” and will look at our words with different eyes than we expected. (And Barbara should know, because she is in the publishing business–a fantastic writer herself, as well as a discriminating reader!)
So you say something, thinking it has a particular meaning, but when you offer it up to the world, you get surprised that the critics, lurking, take it to be something that was not what you meant. What can you do now? What are your choices?
First, we talked about not to take things personally. That’s a good start. Second, consider whether your language needs refining. Third, figure out how your words can affect others and even yourself. If you stop to think about your words, you will find that they can pack a punch–more than you thought possible. Become aware of your structures of interpretation and your use of language.
Want to explore more how to do just that? Hire a coach!
Life is Amazing! Live Well,
Language is one of the most important tools we have to communicate with others – whether it be written or spoken language. In today’s multicultural world, its so important to test for understanding. What is crystal clear to one person may not seem so to another, or may have a different meaning altogether. Take the time to “check in” with the person you’re speaking with – to make sure that what you’re saying is what they are receiving. If there is a gap – use other words to convey your meaning and then listen. Listen carefully. This is when the dialogue of understanding will really begin to happen.
When writing, especially an email – take the time to insure that your message doesn’t get clouded in too many words. Keep it simple, straight forward and no jokes. Jokes can fail misably even when you’re face to face, so imagine the disconnects that can occur via the written message. Language is a powerful tool. Use it to really connect with others.
I appreciate that you have exposed the immense difficulty of establishing a true communication with all these possibilities of various interpretations. However, I am always having difficulties with the guidance: “Do not take in personally.” To me it somehow sounds like: “Do not feel what you are feeling. Deny your feelings and rise your awareness to the abstract realm of absolute.”
For me this does not work. Sometimes I do take things rather personally and it comes out, after a while, that they were not meant personaly. So it was a clear misinterpretation from my side, true. Yet just trying to not take things personally in future…?
However, what works for me in situations like this is to:
1. Be aware of my feelings and acknowledge them: “Ok, this is how I feel right now because I need this and that…”
2. Express my feelings to another person in a non-threatening way – in order to establish a communication.
3. Ask them to clarify what they have been trying to get accross to me and see where the missinterpretations have taken place.
And than continue from this point on, with a higher level of mutual understanding and connection that has just taken place because I had gotten in contact with my very personal feelings and found a way of putting them into the context of this relation in a non-evaluating way.
In short; life is a very personal affair and just trying to not take in personally is not only something I do not believe I can actually do, but is something that I do not want to do.