What Do I Do? I Don't Understand!
Sometimes Even The Directions Confuse Us
People are sometimes embarrassed when they don't understand. Relatively intelligent people shake their heads and get that perplexed look on their face, and we all know that they don't have a clue. Still they are hesitant to say they do not understand something for several reasons:
1. They create the illusion that they are smart and should understand.
2. They create expectations based on their past experiences that they ought to figure this one out.
3. They don't want to appear dumb or stupid, so they don't ask others.
4. It's awkward when we don't understand the directions or solutions given by others.
However, all of those reactions to confusion is just counter-productive. This is especially true if it's a new subject, a how-to, or different concept or idea. In those cases, it's pointless to be embarrassed .
- If the problem is a new one, why do you think you ought to know how to resolve it?
- If the directions don't make sense, why don't you ask for clarification?
- Why do you think you ought to understand something if it's the first time you've encountered it?
Sometimes We Don't Even Understand Terminology
See this is how confusing some things can get; we have a general idea about something, but if the subject is not general but specific, we may get baffled.
Compounding our knowledge of the triangle, we also have to know that it is a musical instrument.
So, there's the shape called triangle, and then there's the instrument called a triangle.
Therefore, learning about any new subject means that we have to be clear about definitions, intent and purpose. Usually, learning about anything new requires repetition, asking questions for calcification, and doing something more than once.
It gets frustrating to keep asking for clarification sometimes; again, because we think we are smart enough to understand it the first time. However, asking questions is better than making mistakes. The old adage of measure twice, cut once comes to mind.
No question is foolish. Having your questions answered, restated or rephrased can help you to understand more clearly, removing some of the likelihood of making a mistake.
Do You Ask for Clarification?
When you don't understand something, do you
My Recent Lesson In Not Understanding
Before you think I'm just lecturing, this article was prompted because I got a recent purchase made in China.
Quality was excellent, a friend had one and I liked it. However, the directions were in Chinese, which I don't read.
I finally decided that an English speaking engineer sent the directions to a Chinese engineer to build, who then had a third person translate them; probably another engineer, and I don't speak engineer, either.
I could not figure out the directions obviously, but it had pictures. Surely, I could decipher them. Well, there's pictures and bad images.
These directions had bad images. Plus, I had one large bag full of several kinds of screws, nuts, bolts and thingamajigs The pictures showed various screws or bolts attaching, but I couldn't tell which kind. I knew what a deadbolt was, but there wasn't one in this assortment.
So, I did what we all do today, I checked the internet. There's carriage, j-bolts, expansion and king bolts. However, I couldn't find an image of the thingamajigs in my mixed bag.
I finally had to ask my 10-year old grandson to finish the project. I watched and asked questions and learned quite a bit.
What Can You Do When You Do Not Understand?
When you realize that you do not thoroughly understand something, try the following:
• Acknowledge that you do not understand.
• Ask the person to restate or rephrase the solution, answer, or directions.
• If you do not understand, do not be embarrassed.
Now, if you still don't understand the directions, ask if there's someone else who can explain it. In the recovery home that I ran, I would realize at a point that my directions for recovery weren't making sense to someone. I'd ask someone else in the group to "translate" for me.
I also explained that sometimes when we are giving directions or solutions, we are limited in how we can explain it, not that the person who didn't understand our directions is too dense to get it. That removed a lot of embarrassment for the person who didn't understand. The reality is that sometimes the directions are as clear as mud.
Be respectful of a person who has tried to explain and cannot explain any better than they have. Everyone says things slightly differently, just as people learn differently.
Also, be polite to someone who tries to explain something but tells you that they're unsure of their directions. Or the person that tell you that they don't know enough about something to attempt to teach someone else how to do something.
“I Don’t Understand" Can be a Manipulative Ploy
People sometimes use, "I don't understand" when they want to:
- Get out of doing something.
- Are too disinterested in the topic to learn about it.
- Just want others to do things for them.
People sometimes use “I don’t understand” to escape looking at something or being accountable. If you find that you use this excuse, or people explain things to you multiple times and you don't pay attention, it might mean that you're disinterested, not listening, or you're just not putting in the effort to understand.
Have you ever used, "I don't understand" to get out of doing something?
You Do Understand, You Just Don't Want to Do It
It's hard to use, "I don't understand" if you show that you do. If you followed the directions one time, and the situations are the same, it's hard to make a case for your lack of awareness.
Therefore, I can pretend I do not know a J-bolt from a carriage bolt, but my grandson knows better.
© 2015 Marilyn L Davis