You are the only one who knows what you mean

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on

This week I have been noticing a lot of miscommunications between people.  I have seen it between myself and my clients, couples, family members, and co-workers.
This week has brought lots of sensitivities to the surface. When stress is high for people, they tend to be more sensitive, therefore, their listening might become defensive rather than from an open heartfelt place.  This is a common occurrence.  

I have had to clean up misinterpretations from how I have come across to my clients and how they have perceived my intention.  When I have said something and the interpretation was that I was not caring or listening or don’t understand, I needed to make sure that I apologized for coming across in a way that my conversation could be interpreted in a non-caring or harsh way. I also have had to ponder about what was going inside me that with all the best intention, my tonality or my words appeared harsh to the listener.  Thankfully all miscommunications were cleared up and reconnection has happened.  I am observing myself to see what and how subconsciously is relaying to the listener.  

I have also observed couples that have dragged out arguments for weeks based on misinterpretations.  One partner states a complaint so that they get heard and hopefully for the matter to get fixed.  However, the other partner hears the complaint as an attack, or a demeaning sentence and feel angry or humiliated.  When each person clarifies the meaning of what was said, then the two can begin moving forward with the intended communication. If they don’t clarify and just argue, it takes a long time to get out of defense/ attack mode. This way they continue to hurt each other. 

No one knows what another person is thinking or feeling.  At best we can assume and guess.  The problem escalates when we think our assumption and projection is accurate and react according to our personal projection without doing a reality check.  I read this quote that rings true:

“Between what I think – What I want to say – What I believe I’m saying – What I say – What you want to hear – What you hear – What you believe you understand – What you want to understand – and what you understand – There are at least 9 possibilities for misunderstanding“​

When you have said or done something that has hurt someone and they get the courage to tell you they are upset:

  1. Listen with compassion, 
  2. go into their world, 
  3. see how they have been affected, 
  4. what did they perceive that hurt them,
  5. apologize for what you have done that was perceived as intentional hurt or that it hurt even though they knew you did not intend to hurt them,
  6. Let them know what you meant to say that was misinterpreted
  7. Take responsibility for the way you have stated it that created the misinterpretation
  8. Let them know that you would like to reconnect with them and mend the relationship 
  9. Ask for future ways that the other person likes to be communicated to
  10. Let them know how you would like to be communicated to

To have more observational skills and tools for healthier relationships go to my book “LifeReset The Awareness Integration Path to Creating the Life You Want

Be responsible for clarifying your communication. You are the only one who knows what you mean.



About Dr.FoojanZeine

Dr. Foojan Zeine is an International Speaker, Psychotherapist, Life Coach, and the Author of Life Reset – The Awareness Path to Create the Life You Want. She has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She practices in Beverly Hills & San Clemente, California offices, and online. Her expertise is in Intimate Relations and Addictive Behaviors. She has extensive experience treating Depression, Anxiety, Traumas, and Domestic Violence. Foojan is the originator and the author for “Awareness Integration” psychotherapeutic model, which is a multi-modality approach and intervention toward minimizing Depression, Anxiety while improving Self Esteem and Self Confidence. This Method has been published with multiple research. Foojan hosts the “Inner Voice” show in the KMET1490AM/ ABC Radio. She is a guest speaker in many universities including Harvard, MIT, UCLA, USC. She has been a guest in the Dr. Phil show in CBS, Fox, Voice of America Television Programs; KPFK 90.7, KIRN 670AM.
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