In Part One we saw that it’s important to take responsibility for things like making sure that the coffee you are pouring actually makes it into your cup as opposed to on your hand. And, we began to look at how the same holds true with conversation.
I’m thinking back to an online chatroom discussion regarding a controversial political issue in which I participated about six or seven months ago. Though I don’t participate in many online discussion groups anymore, in this one I learned an important lesson.
I made one particular point, the meaning of which was mistaken by one of the other participants. His reply to me, and not made in a very kind, tactful manner, brought agreement from several of the other participants. I then wrote an explanation, but could tell it was not readily accepted, as the damage had already been done.
I came away from the chat angry at them for not understanding what I originally said, which to me, was absolutely obvious. Being an analyzer of communication, however, I kept replaying the e-conversation in my mind. The more I thought about it, the more I could see that, though anyone who was carefully considering what I said would surely understand it, it was equally true that anyone who didn’t carefully consider my remark could misunderstand it. And, several of them did.
Now, we might ask ourselves, shouldn’t people try and figure out what we “really” mean? Perhaps they should, but usually they won’t. It isn’t human nature. It’s much easier to not think that hard and, instead, rely on our already-existing belief system to process it for us through an already-existing lense. Therefore, for us to be master persuaders, we must take responsibility for the communication.
So, am I willing to take responsibility for how that online communication (or, miscommunication) was perceived? Yes. Because, as I was taught years ago by a very wise man, “Burg, when the shooter misses the target, it ‘ain’t’ the target’s fault.” Advice well taken.
One might be tempted to say, “I say what I say the way I want to say it and if a person doesn’t get it, that’s their problem.”
And that’s fine, unless “one” really does care about successfully making the point they’re trying to make, persuading people to accept and embrace their views, and building and maintaining positive relationships with those important to them.
If that’s not an issue, then there’s not need to worry about it. If it is (as it is for most of us), then be prepared to accept the responsibility for your communication.
*Note: This was originally going to be a two-part series, Heather’s question below inspired both Part Three and Part Four.