Miscommunication is a part of life, but saying the same thing in a louder and louder voice will not remedy the situation. And while participating in a circular argument may feel like everyone is speaking different languages, yelling won’t translate your argument, either!
Families always teach us a lot about life, even when we’re grown. Here’s what I learned about fixing a miscommunication from a visit with my parents last winter.
In the winter it’s usually a bit chilly inside my parents’ house because they refuse to turn on their heat. Instead, they rely on the fireplace and space heaters.
My room is particularly cold because while the rest of the house is above an insulated basement, my room is above a crawlspace. One extra chilly trip home I casually commented to my dad that I didn’t think the heater in my room was working as well as before because my room was an icebox.
Repeating your point will not fix a miscommunication
Dad: “I think the heater is working just fine; your room is above the crawlspace.”
Me: “My room has always been above the crawlspace. I don’t think the heater is working.”
Dad: “The heater is fine. Your room is above the crawlspace so it doesn’t heat up like the rest of the house.”
Me: “I know that, but my room has always been above the crawlspace and it’s been just fine on my previous visits home. I think it’s the heater.”
Dad: “Yeah, but your room is above the crawlspace.”
This cycle of madness continued until we both felt like crazy people and stared at one another in disbelief. He couldn’t believe that I wasn’t getting his point, and I couldn’t believe that he felt the need to tell me my room was above the crawlspace for the TENTH TIME IN A ROW.
Sometimes if we feel like the other person just isn’t “getting it,” we need to take a step back and evaluate
1) The point we are trying to make and
2) The way we are saying it.
You might be surprised to learn that you are on the same page
My dad and I eventually took a deep breath and tried to see where we were missing the mark. We found out how we were on the same page: My room is colder than the rest of the house because it’s above the crawlspace. Got it. Moving on.
We then had to figure out what exactly we were disagreeing on: is the heater working or not?
My dad explained why he thought it was working: it was about 20 degrees colder outside than the last time I had come home. Then it just clicked. I understood! When he reworded his approach, I finally got his point.*
The heater was working at the same level, but my room was much colder (because it was above the damn crawlspace) so it was just going to be colder in general.
Take a step back and look inside
Repeating the same thing over and over again didn’t help, and only made us both feel like we were on the brink of insanity. Miscommunication will do that to you.
If you are feeling like you are missing the mark with someone in your life, whether it’s a family member, friend, co-worker, boss, or employee, take a step back and look internally. What are you really trying to say and how can you re-structure your delivery to help get your point across?
And if that doesn’t work, just scream into a pillow and grab an extra blanket.
*Just for the record, on a later visit, we found out that the heater was indeed broken. BOOM!