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Misunderstanding

 

Techniques > Conversation techniques > Excuses > Misunderstanding

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

When you say something that others do not like, point out that they have misunderstood you, interpreting your words to mean something else.

Alternatively, when you have done something that is not what was wanted, you can claim that you misunderstood their desires.

Do this with patience, showing that you want to both understand and be understood.

Example

No, that wasn't what I meant. Let me rephrase it.

I think you've got the wrong end of the stick. I guess it's easy to misunderstand.

Why would you think that of me? You're mind-reading again. Let me explain again in words of one syllable...

Discussion

When we speak, we use far less words than we might if we were to explain our intent in full detail. This makes it easier for others to misunderstand. The limitations and complexity of language also contributes to this problem.

We all know that we misunderstand (and, particularly, are misunderstood), which make this excuse easier for others to accept.

When we listen to others, we form a theory of mind about them, guessing how they think. We then use this as filter when we are figuring out what they really mean when they speak. The same principle applies when we watch them act.

When others misunderstand, it can help them get to a state where they want to understand if you first act in an understanding way.

See also

Theory of Mind, Theories about decision errors

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