Feeling Misunderstood? It’s the speaker’s duty to communicate clearly. Americana Therapy Memes.
We all spend plenty of time feeling misunderstood by our partners, friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and even people we scarcely know. The other day I had to repeat my dinner order three times before the waitress and I were on the same page. In these instances and others like them, it’s easy for me to believe that the communication breakdown is solely the fault of the listener – in this case, the waitress.
This is a common problem in any type of relationship – thinking that the problem is with my partner, not me. I’m fine. If she would simply change, everything would flow along nicely. My song, “Waiting,” (from my Americana singer songwriter folk album, Golden Some Day) is written about his phenomenon.
A few years ago I attended a psychotherapy training and this basic communication premise was thrown on its head. The conference presenter reasoned that it is the sole responsibility of the speaker to make himself understood by the listener. Not the listener’s responsibility to understand. This seemingly simple concept was, to me, quite profound. And while the reality is that effective communication takes effort on both sides, this new spin was a revelation.
It shifted the burden of responsibility and took away my default strategy of blaming the other person for not listening. In the event of a miscommunication, this presenter was telling me that it was I who was not communicating in a way that the speaker could hear. I’ll admit that I didn’t really like hearing this. It’s so much easier to blame others, and takes so much work to tailor my message to the individual listener.
Yet the more I practice this skill – placing the burden of clear communication squarely upon my own shoulders – I have found that I spend far less time feeling misunderstood. I still have to bite my tongue when it appears that other person just isn’t getting it, as my typical default setting tends to blame the listener for not doing her job.
So there’s my challenge to you: For one week, try taking on the task of communicating in a way that the other person can understand, instead of blaming them for not listening. Chances are, you’ll spend less time feeling misunderstood.
Americana singer songwriter Jeremy Dion puts as much energy into his guitar playing as he does his songwriting. Dion is an Americana Singer Songwriter Psychotherapist.
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