HOW TO HANDLE MISUNDERSTANDING THROUGH OPEN COMMUNICATION AND EMPATHIC LISTENING
Once, a woman was struggling to cross an old wooden bridge. She was probably scared of heights. She called her husband for help, who was at the other end of the bridge. But he refused to come and said, ‘I am busy doing something very important. I can’t come with you’. The lady somehow managed to cross the bridge alone with tears and fear in her eyes. She was a little upset with her husband for not walking beside her.
But when she reached on the other end, she saw that her husband was holding the old, broken bridge in its place. His hands were bleeding and he was bearing the weight of the entire bridge.
Sometimes, we assume that our partner is not doing enough for us, or that he/she has more important things to do. This grows into a misunderstanding and sometimes even a breakup.
In these situations, we should attempt to understand them and have faith in them. Let’s learn support each other and solve the situation with maturity rather than fighting.
Here are some short tips to handle these situations:
It might sound cliché, but listening is the most important aspect of a relationship. Let’s listen to them. Not to contribute our words at the end but to listen to them and empathize. Most problems can be solved if people just listen to each other without judgement.
Creating a mutual expectation
Instead of blindfolded expectation developed through wishful thinking, let's create a mutual and informed expectation. For example, we can discuss and decide that whenever there is a doubt, we’ll come and talk directly rather than simply assuming the other person will somehow understand. Or else we can keep a query or concern board, in which both people will write their concerns respectfully and will discuss it at the weekend or any other specified time.
Say no to electronic communications
Many of us feel comfortable talking on social media rather than face to face. This should be strictly avoided at times of misunderstandings. Text increases the possibility of interpreting things in a wrong way. If there is no other option, like if it’s a long distance relationship or if one person is travelling, we can try to keep the conversation brief and sort it out over a call or a meeting.
If something is hurting us, then we should step back and ask our partners for a detailed explanation of that incident or behaviour. What we normally do is jump to a conclusion about their behaviour and mentally plan a separation. It is quite possible that they intended to say or do something else. And we interpreted that in a completely different way. Misunderstanding can be removed by having a word with them. This will help us in understanding each other better.
Like the lady in the story of the bridge, there are chances that we think that our partner is keeping quiet because they do not care. They may not walk with us across the bridge. But they might be holding the bridge for us more times than we can even imagine.
A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them. They’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke