Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"You don't understand."

We hear the statement frequently, don't we? Maybe we've even said it once or twice (I know I sure have!). I'm wondering if you've ever noticed the effects of these statements, either if you were the one saying them, or if you were the one "receiving" the statement?

Before I go any further, I would like to establish the fact that sometimes the person we are talking to does NOT understand. Sometimes we get very frustrated in communication because both people are on different pages, and one simply cannot understand where the other is coming from in conversation. That does happen. I want to establish that before I more forward:)

So what are the effects of using this type of statement. "You don't understand." Is definitive. Are you 100% certain that they absolutely do NOT understand, or are you just wondering if they understand. Even if you are sure they don't understand, making a statement like that will generally lead the other person to becoming defensive. Through this statement, healthy communication often won't happen. If the other person does, in fact, understand, then they will often discount the rest of what you say, as you are the one that is clearly "out of touch" with the way things are. Generally speaking, the "you don't understand" statements we make are not the healthiest and most clear form of communication that we can use. We want to try to avoid any type of aggressive form of communication!

Instead of using statements like the example above, I'm wondering how things would be different if we used statements like these:

  • "I'm wondering if you understand..."
  • "Could you clarify for me what you think about _______ please? "
  • "I'm wondering if I am misunderstanding the point 
  • I'm trying to understand your point of view. Is this (fill in blank) what you are trying to say?
  • I feel frustrated when I feel like you don't understand what I'm trying to say...
  • I'm wondering what you would say about this (fill in the blank)?
  • Given your perspective on this matter, I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this (fill in the blank)? 
These statements are asserting your thoughts or feelings without being aggressive or attacking the individual. "You don't understand" will lead to someone discounting what you say, or can lead to an argument. Assertive statements will allow you to communicate more clearly from your point of you without attacking the individual. 

We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. We WILL make mistakes and at times we will attack or be aggressive in our forms of communication. That's inevitable. Sometimes people really won't understand us or what we are experiencing. We can't control how they think. We can only control our own thoughts (healthy boundaries, right?). Striving to be as clear and non-aggressive as possible will generally lead to health and clarity in communication. 

Now it's your turn:
What do you do when you feel like someone isn't understanding what you are saying? (Maybe you walk away & take a break, try writing it out instead of speaking, or something similar?) How do you try to decrease frustrations in communication?

1 comment:

  1. I went through this recently. My boyfriend hurt his back and was in a lot of pain. I tried to share knowledge *I* learned the many, many times I was injured and he would get frustrated that I "didn't understand what it's like." Which frustrated me. No, I've never had serious back pain but I've had lasting, painful injuries several times in my life and a few surgeries that took almost a year to recover from.

    But because I didn't know back pain, he thought I didn't know pain. It caused some issues in our relationship for awhile. I pulled away and felt less sympathetic toward him. He realized that I'd been trying to help and he apologized. We worked through it together and our relationship got stronger. Good. :)