Avoiding Misunderstanding


It seems in life, misunderstanding is easy to occur. Misunderstandings can create unnecessary conflict and unhappiness; often this results from a suspicious mind and unfairly assigning motives.

These are suggestions for preventing and resolving misunderstanding.

1. Don’t Suspect

Misunderstandings often arise because we suspect the worst. We may feel that someone has a negative attitude towards us, when actually they don’t. The mind can be tricky, we can easily build up a negative image of someone, yet, it is an impression which is false or at least only partially true. Often this stems from a lack of self confidence. Because we doubt ourselves we assume that people are liable to be thinking badly about us. Another example is when we take lack of praise as a sign people think negatively of us. Just because someone doesn’t offer praise outwardly, doesn’t mean that they don’t like us.

2. Talk honestly

Most misunderstandings can be resolved by talking with other people. Meeting a person and talking of issues, often shows that our mind’s imaginings were quite false. Be wary of communicating via email; it is a very impersonal form of communication. There is no body language and it is much easier to create misunderstandings. Sometimes we can say something, but, it is our facial expression and eyes that offer the real meaning of what we are trying to convey.

3. Use the heart

The mind will always find conflict, problems and doubts. We need to use the heart and concentrate on things which unite. Here the heart is the aspect which does not judge or criticise but seeks oneness. Outwardly a person may create negative connotations; if this is the case use the heart to silently concentrate on the inner qualities of the other person.

4. Don’t assign Motives – you are probably wrong.

A common source of misunderstanding is assigning motives to other people. For example, someone may take a decision and then we see it as a personal attack or personal criticism. Yet, we are often 100% incorrect in assigning this motive and assuming their decision was taken to slight us. It can be very damaging to assume others are out to get us. Often it is base on a ‘poor me’ syndrome – assuming the world is against us. If we cherish this negative mindset, we will only succeed in making ourselves miserable. It is also unfair to other people. When others suspect our motives, we just feel disappointed that we have to try and convince others our motives had nothing to do with their fears and suspicions.

  • Of course, it maybe that sometimes people will act with ill feeling towards us; but, we lose nothing by assuming people have a positive view. At the very least, we need to suspend our judgement and avoid jumping to conclusions.

5. Keep Perspective.

Often we blow up small issues into big problems. Maybe someone we live with doesn’t like the way we tidy up the house; but just because we get criticised for a small thing, doesn’t mean they dislike us. We need to separate issues from personalities. We can accept small criticisms and not blow them out of proportion.

6. Ask – Don’t Brood.

Rather than brooding on misunderstanding, it is better to take action to resolve the situation. This may be through careful analysis of your thought patterns; you can resolve to detach from the negative thoughts you are currently holding. If you don’t do this; if you ruminate over the same small misunderstandings, the mind will magnify the problem. What was once a small misunderstanding now feels to be a big misunderstanding. Trying asking for clarification (in a non combative tone).

7. Look for Resolutions Don’t cherish misunderstandings and intrigue.

If we cherish misunderstanding and intrigue, we will be inundated with them. We may do this only subconsciously, but, if we seek to overcome them we will benefit from greater peace of mind and our relationships will definitely improve. It is important to approach the problems in a non combative way. If we challenge people and assign blame then they will be put on the defensive. If we approach others with a non-judgemental attitude, it makes it much easier for others to respond in a positive way.

8. Be Wary of Gossip. Take time to find out the truth.

This advice may seem fairly straightforward, but, it is nevertheless something worth reminding ourselves of. In the world there is much criticism, some true, but some false. We can’t assume that something we hear or see is necessarily true. We need to find out for ourselves and use our common sense and judgement. If we believe wholeheartedly second hand sources, we risk creating needless misunderstandings.

Photo by Ahuta, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries.

11 thoughts on “Avoiding Misunderstanding”

  1. I couldn’t agree more with the point about not using email communication for personal / heart-centered discussions.

    In two of my first long-term relationships, I met my partners on the internet. It seemed natural to communicate that way, and since we sometimes had issues arise for us during work hours we would email each other.

    That was just pure disaster! Not only did it upset me during my work hours, but so many miscommunications came up because of how I interpreted the words… without the context of my then-girlfriend’s expressions, and ability to respond naturally and conversationally.

    Fast forward to a few years ago when I also met my wife online. With the lessons learned, I realized that the issues CAN wait until I get home to be discussed.

    We’ve also discovered that the more effort we make to communicate in person, the stronger our bond grows because we’re able to make it a more heart-centered experience for both of us.

    Just imagine the difference between the following:

    1) Saying “I love you” over the phone.

    2) Looking deep into your partner’s eyes and saying “I love you.”

    3) Sending an email that says “I love you.”

    I’ve done all of the above, and in my experience there is no substitute for in-person communication.

  2. I like this advice. I can see how I can benefit from taking heed, I would also like to pass this advice on to someone else, but I don’t know how to.

  3. one situation that is “I was said to my friend in telugu that “wadu poyindu”.It means he was dead or he went”.So like i would like to say because of this we misunderstand.

  4. ‘Because we doubt ourselves we assume that people are liable to be thinking badly about us.’

    what should I do when someone is doing this about me? Their reactions and comments show they are assuming I am thinking badly of them. So much so that I’m picking up on this and wondering what they have to hide…. I’m thinking I should just ignore it but my intuition won’t let me…and the intuition is different from a nagging inner voice going on.

  5. I agree with the advice that emeil or rather all electronic communication is not appropriate in matters of the heart.Face to face conversations are very important

  6. Depends on the state and thinking ability of the person which can accept the above as true or false…….

    but as per me very good advice

  7. I have a sister who always misunderstands me. She takes everything the wrong way. It is frustrating. You find yourself re-explaining everything. But sometimes that’s hard because she will cut u off and interupt. She is not a good listener plus her self esteem is quite low and with those two together conversations are a job and unenjoyable. I just have to practice being more clear and saying what I mean and meaning what I say.

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