This weekend I overheard 2 different conversations that didn’t go well. In both cases, the individuals were asking questions and the response they got was defensive. Both questions were pretty simple, not intrusive. If the questions were asked in print form, the response wouldn’t have been the same. It was a great reminder for me, that sometimes, it’s not the words that come out of your mouth that offend, it’s the way you deliver them.
I wrote a blog post about the show The Affair years ago where I shared that I love the fact that it illustrated how we can all perceive the same experience in different ways. It reminds me of something that I heard once and that was to see life as a movie, but we’re all watching on different projectors.
I feel like that was the situation this weekend. Each person asking their respective questions was doing their job. In both situations, the respondents knew the questions were coming, but they were caught off guard by the tone of the question. That set the tone for their response, which then caught the questioner off-guard. It’s interesting to the observer of a situation and it served as a reminder to be mindful of how I say the things I say.
A few years ago, I took a tumble in a parking lot. I was with my husband and when he came to help me I remember saying “it’s okay, just give me a minute.” He waited for me to collect myself and we went on our way. Later we were talking about the tumble and he said I said, “don’t touch me!” I know that’s not what I said, and I remember telling a friend the story, and she said, you might not have said “don’t touch me”, but the way you said “it’s okay, just give me a minute” was probably sending the same message. We laughed about it, but it did make me think about it and I know that she’s right.
I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where the things we’ve said have been received in a way that we didn’t intend. Whether that was meaning something as a joke that isn’t taken that way, or saying something heartfelt and is taken as an attack. It can be confusing when we are misinterpreted, and we wondering how things got lost in translation. When we look at our delivery, we can find where the issue is.
It doesn’t matter what the conversation is about, it’s essential to be mindful of the tone and delivery. To have productive communication, the focus has to be on how the message is crafted. Think about what your intention is for the conversation, and deliver your thoughts and questions in a way that will reach that goal. You’ll be glad you did and the person you’re communicating with will appreciate it too! 🙂