Miscommunication leads to complication

The title of this post is a line from Lauryn Hill’s ‘Lost Ones’.

I have never really been good at confronting situations that bother me. This includes everyday, typical misunderstandings. Often in the heat of the moment, I get so blinded by my emotions and so caught up in the feeling of rejection or resentment that I have a hard time putting my feelings out there and simply telling the person how what they did made me feel. I have often avoided opportunities to seek clarification on something that might not have been a big deal but because it wasn’t addressed at the time it happened, ended up snowballing into something more serious, sometimes even resulting in loss of friendship.

I think most of us have been in this situation. We assume the motives behind someone’s actions and then don’t talk to them again. Or we keep it inside and tell ourselves that we will just let it go, but then when we see the person involved in what made us upset, we have an attitude or a look on our face because the thoughts are rolling through our head. So many times someone has done something that bothered me and the next time I see them I have a look on my face that shows I am upset. The person will then ask “what’s the matter” and I reply “nothing”. When really I could have just expressed what bothered me and ended it right then and there.

I think with age and maturity comes self confidence and the less we seek approval from others. I am learning, although not completely there yet, to be more open with my feelings and not worry about how it will make me look or worry that I will offend somebody. This doesn’t always mean that it will result in a happy ending. Some people might get defensive that you confronted them. Some people might not talk to you again after that. But that’s okay. It is better than pretending that you are okay everytime you see this person or holding in something that is really pulling at you. I do think, though, that more often than not, it will result better than not saying anything at all. Sometimes the other person didn’t realize how what they said or did offended you or hurt you. Sometimes there was no malicious intent from the other person and confronting them helps you to realize it was actually very innocent.

When we don’t seek clarification, we assume and our assumptions, in turn, affect how we act towards the other party.

Recently at my job, maybe about a month ago, a woman at my job told me that something I said offended her. She has a heavy Brooklyn, Italian accent. She paged someone over the intercom. I then called her at her desk and mimicked her accent and said she reminds me of Marisa Tomei. When I saw her later that day, she told me that I hurt her feelings. She said that it is her pet peeve when people comment on her accent and she is tired of hearing the same comment from different people. I told her that I was only joking and I have a Brooklyn Italian accent as well which many people point out to me. Although it does not offend me when people point out my accent, it did offend her. She told me that she is letting me know it bothered her because we are friendly with each other and she didn’t want to keep it inside and give me an attitude. I apologized for offending her and I will not comment on her accent again. After that, everything resumed as normal between us.

So next time something bothers you, say something. You would be surprised how much better you feel after getting that weight off of your shoulders. You would also be surprised how more often than not, people are understanding of your point of view and want to clarify the misunderstanding. If they are your friend, they will listen and respect your feelings and explain. If they take offense at you confronting them or get defensive and act differently towards you afterwards, than it is more a reflection of them than it is of you.

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