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What I Meant To Say

I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures today, where the word we are Pondering this week is "mean"...  

If I said it, I'll own up to it, and I probably meant it.  However, the problem is often that what I meant to say isn't at all what came out, or maybe it is that you didn't understand what I meant by what I said.

Confusing?  Yes, it sure can be!  We have such enormous vocabularies, our brains have stored up more words and their meanings than we can possibly count, yet when it comes to human interaction we are often reduced to bumbling, mumbling, and stumbling in our efforts to convey our thoughts and feelings to each other.

If a situation is emotionally charged, it can sometimes be easier to resort to written communication which requires a bit more thought than shouting at each other, but it can also be argued that the written word is devoid of the physical gestures and facial cues that help convey the sentiment behind our words. Was the author angry, sad, hurt, confused or just being reflective? 

I think most of us have found ourselves in the situation of having said something that we thought was reasonable and clear, only to have the other person respond with confusion, hurt or even anger.  Times like that can be so frustrating, obviously something went amiss. 

I am a fairly open person, and tend to speak spontaneously.  That is good and bad.  It doesn't often leave people wondering what I'm thinking, but at times I have a tendency to say too much, just as Maxine refers to in the quote up there.  Truly, we don't need to say everything we think, and it is  probably better if we don't!  "Is it kind?  Is it necessary?  Is it fair?"  Good tests to help filter our words, so that we not only say what we mean, but say it in a way that won't offend or do more harm than good. 

We all want to be understood.  When I tell you about something important to me, I harbor the hope that you will not only understand the message and what it means, but also where I'm coming from when I say it.  I hope that you will understand what it means to me, how personal the issue might be. I hope that you will overlook the abruptness of my response, and the rough edges of my language, and seek the deeper meaning my words are trying to convey. 

I believe that when I ask "What did you mean by that?" it  is a fair question.  It means that I'm not certain I understood your message or the motivation behind it.  I am seeking further clarification so that I don't jump to the wrong conclusions and respond in a manner that I will regret later. 

"Don't asks if you don't want the answer" is probably a good rule when you want to know what someone meant by what they said.  If you ask me what I mean, I will try my best to explain, and I will do so honestly.  I will spend as much time as it takes to try to reach an understanding.  I hope you would do he same for me.  I can deal with the fallout from honesty, what I cannot deal with very well  is the uncertainty of vagueness and what you keep hidden from me.  Please don't do me any favors by keeping things from me, because really you aren't... go ahead and tell me what you mean!
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Head on over to Brenda's place and see what others are Pondering today!

6 comments:

  1. so much can get lost in the art of conversation - it's tricky business. But I always mean what I say... and I think as I get older I care less whether people understand it or not. I figure they are probably more concerned with being understood themselves. But I hope I have finally overcome the foot in mouth tendencies of my youth. I certainly would never mean...to be intentionally mean to anyone.

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    1. I think you present a good point here, Rory, that maybe both parties are more focused on being understood themselves than on trying to understand what the other person means. I've seen exercises where one is required to repeat back and rephrase what they think the other person said, and it's surprising how often they miss the mark. It's about that all important taking time to really LISTEN!

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  2. I love this and it makes perfect sense to me. What you mean to say and what the other person hears are not always the same. Even when you write it down it can be conatated differently.
    Sometimes I wonder if all we should do is smile or frown :)

    Thanks for pondering with me

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    1. Thank you Brenda! I'm thinking the smile frown thing wouldn't so bad, or maybe we just need a collar button that lights up with a thumbs up or thumbs down in addition to our words, kind of a silent signal that lets the other person know how we're feeling about the conversation. That might not be so great though if we're trying to be polite but secretly rolling invisible eyes! :-)

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  3. It's not always easy to talk, is it? Each of us bring our subjective understanding of the meanings of words into the conversation.

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    1. That's exactly it, Mimi, it is not only the words we use, but what they mean to us, and how we've experienced them used before. Someone can say something in total innocence that will make me bristle and they have no idea why, though for me it is a trigger word or expression. Honest, open communication takes work... and a lot of dedication to connecting!

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)