I could not believe they said that!!!! How many times have you had a hostile conversation with someone and you just could not believe what comes out of their mouth! It’s that horrible moment when you ask yourself “How could they have said that?”
Maybe you have had the opposite experience, you have said something and all of a sudden the room goes cold! You can see that look on someone’s face, and they are the ones asking themselves “How could she have said that?’ Whichever side you have been on it’s a situation that never feels good! As we go about our daily lives, we know that having that type of situation pop up with family, friends, and coworkers is unavoidable!
So what causes such miscommunication? How do we end up misunderstanding each other so severely? It’s easy to let yourself slip into judgment and blame towards the other person. And into denial and repression about what your part of the conversation was. But by doing so, you really are selling yourself short and losing a fantastic opportunity to learn more about yourself and others.
All communication has two sides to it, and depending on which side you focus on determines how you are going to feel. One side of communication is called benign…we see the positive meaning and the positive intention behind whatever was said. We most often focus on the benign side of things if we have a great relationship with the person we are in communication with, or we are looking to create a bond.
It’s also easy to see the benign side of a conversation when we are in agreement with what the person has said. We tend to see the good in the other person and give them the benefit of the doubt even if we might be unsure how things are meant. Think about the easiest conversations you have…you care about the person speaking and you normally are in agreement with whatever they are saying. You also want to deepen the bond between you and do that by giving them the best intentions.
When we focus on the other side of communication, called the hostile side, it seems no matter what the words are or what is said you know they meant something awful, something mean, something that was meant to hurt you and to exclude you!! Normally we focus on the hostile side when we are at odds with someone when we have some history with them that include painful times, or this is something to really consider, the person is so similar to us and it awakens our subconscious to the fact that there is something about ourselves that we are not at peace with!
Whatever the reason is we tend to see the “bad” in the other person and we “know” they meant it in a negative way, no matter what they say. Even when others try to tell us it could mean something else we refuse to accept the evidence and we would never come to that natural conclusion ourselves. So what can we do?
How can we bring peace not only to the conversation but also to the relationship?
The first step is being aware of what you are doing!
When someone says something that makes you grit your teeth just to hold back the words that are dying to come out, take a minute and remind yourself that you are focusing on the hostile side of what they are saying. Awaken yourself to the idea that this is not just that simple, it’s not just right and wrong or black and white and look at what was said with fresh eyes, instead of the old unaware way of looking at it!
The second step is asking yourself what the benign side would say!
What good intention could you give the painful comment? What positive indication could it have? What might you not be understanding? What point of view could you not be seeing? Now don’t think I can’t hear you!! I know what you’re saying!! You’re saying “But Meg, you don’t know so and so and how awful they are. And how mean their words are!” Trust me I understand – I have those people in my life too!
Let me reassure you even when someone says something so incredibly hurtful, so incredibly painful, and even if their intentions were hostile, there is always a benign side that you can choose to focus on. Painful comments are simply another way of communicating that someone feels separate from you and that they don’t like feeling that way. Snarky remarks are just another way people expose how they feel unworthy of your love and admiration, and a cover-up to try and prove they don’t care that they are not worthy.
One-up-manship is just another way to say, “Please tell me I’m worthy of love because I don’t believe that I am.” Every communication is either a call for love or loving response. No matter what the words are the question underneath is always, “Do you love me?” and “Am I worthy of love?”
Remember, If you are having a hard time doing that, and something slips out of your mouth that is more on the hostile side, that is YOU asking for love, that is you asking if you’re worthy! Most arguments and misunderstandings are just two people asking if they are loved…be the One that answers with a loud YES!!!!
Sending you all love,