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  • Writer's pictureLarry Williamson

What I Hear Is Not Always What Was Said

In my last blog, Words Linger , I spoke about the power of words. We looked at the impact our words can have on our children, on our business relationships, and on our spouse or partner relationships. Lastly, I provided some simple yet powerful things you can do on a daily basis with your communications to create a lasting and positive impact with others.

Last time we looked at this from the position of the speaker, taking personal accountable for the words we choose. Today, lets discuss this from a different position, the position of the listener, the receiver. What we hear may at times not be what was said, or at least not what was intended. We have responsibilities on both sides of this communication exchange.

Something I wrote many years ago:

I hear or read someone's words, I put them through my own filters of experiences, beliefs, insecurities, likes, dislikes and more, and out comes my interpretation. Not always what was said, but what I heard. Oh what my reaction to others has to teach me about myself. The mirror before me can be a powerful instrument in self-understanding. May I always be open to looking within.

How many of us have said something, or even written something on a social media site, and then were surprised by a comment we received? We look at the response and our immediate reaction is, "that’s not what I said, I did not mean it that way at all!" We can be shocked that our words were interpreted this way. This can happen to any of us, and I believe the statement above is why.

I believe most of us understand that this misinterpretation can happen. Our challenge is to accept that we personally can fall victim to this same process. We have to realize and accept the possibility that we ourselves can misinterpret something said to us by another.

What can we do about this? Try not to get defensive if someone tells you "that’s not what I said." Be open to the possibility that what you think you heard was not what was said at all. Don't be so quick to judge and categorize the words of another. We may be jumping to a conclusion, creating our own interpretation based on some already established belief or opinion. Take responsibility for not only listening, but also for hearing and understanding what another person shares with us. Realize that you too can be influenced by your on experiences, beliefs, and insecurities. Being to quick to try to fit the words of another in to some category we have already established, might be like trying to fit a round peg in to a square hole!

Be open to the possibility that we might all at times be guilty of sending the wrong message, and at other times, interpreting the wrong meaning. Be open to the possibility that "what I hear is not always what was said."

What do you have to say about this? I would be interested in hearing what you heard me say!

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