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Misinterpretation: Silence is Not Consent

Updated on February 19, 2014
krsharp05 profile image

Kristi graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Human Development and Developmental Psychopathology of Children.


The Fine Art of Misinterpretation

As a human being you are constantly analyzing and interpreting what goes on around you. You listen to what others say, watch what they do and observe their actions and reactions. You see things in the press and in the media not to mention the constant interpretation of your life: your actions, physical sensations, emotions and all of the constant explosions happening inside you.

The totality of combustion leads to an ultimate conclusion which is your interpretation of what is happening. Sometimes your interpretation is correct and sometimes you miss the mark by a thousand miles. There are several concrete reasons why misinterpretation happens; why perspective can be lost.

Black-And-White Thinking

Some people exercise what psychologists refer to as black-and-white thinking which is simply when you view situations with an extremist point of view. These types of thinkers typically work with an "all or nothing" motivation. This type of thinking often distorts the reality of the situation enough that the individual misses that there is more than one possible outcome and often an outcome that falls somewhere between perfect and useless, success and failure or love and hate.

5 Great Ways to Avoid Conflict in Relationships

  1. Avoid using sarcasm when you are having discussions. Sarcasm will stifle a productive discussion and may even spark a fight. It's best to leave the negativity out of your conversation.
  2. Don't play mind games. One of the easiest ways to destroy a relationship is by playing mind games. If you are having a discussion, make sure that you don't have a hidden agenda. Be open and honest. Don't lie, don't be manipulative and don't be argumentative.
  3. Intimidation is a means of poisoning your relationship. Nothing positive will result from using intimidation for any reason.
  4. Contradictory messages are extremely confusing to decipher. When you say something positive with angry look on your face or you say something derogatory with a smile, it can be very frustrating to try to understand what you are attempting to convey.
  5. Stop the "Fine, I'm done" game. If you have decided to make a commitment to a relationship then you need to fully commit and give it your best effort. Every time you say, "it's over" you weaken the walls of solidarity. Stop looking for reasons to break up and begin looking for reasons to stay together.

Communication Filters

There are several types of communication filters. Some are a product of the atmosphere and cannot be controlled while others are due to personal life issues, beliefs, moods and insecurities. Let's take a look at filters.

  • Distraction filters happen when you feel that your partner is not paying attention.
  • Emotional states greatly affect communication. When you are in a foul mood you are less likely to give your partner the benefit of the doubt.
  • Unrealistic beliefs and expectations tend to lead people to believe that their partner should think and act in a specific way and when the partner falls short of their expectations or makes a mistake that doesn't fit into their master plan, there is anger and resentment.
  • If one person is introverted and the other is extroverted this can be a nefarious and bumpy combination to navigate. In social settings the person who is more gregarious and outgoing may have unrealistic expectations that cause tension between the couple.
  • Loving relationships bring out a very critical communication issue and that is the fear of rejection. When people have a fear of pronouncing their needs, desires and beliefs because they are afraid that the truth will somehow damage their current relationship, it fosters a sense of insecurity as opposed to a feeling of warm attachment. People will hide their own needs and desires in order to protect themselves from being hurt.



Overgeneralizing happens when you take a single situation and apply it to every similar situation. There is a tendency to jump to negative conclusions which can make positive interactions problematic. One rejection does not mean that every relationship will end with rejection. Overgeneralizing can become a never-ending pattern.

Mind Reading

Mind reading is based on making assumptions about other people's feelings and thoughts. It can happen in any type of relationship. It's common amongst couples and can make effective communication difficult. It's a physical impossibility to accurately speculate about the feelings and beliefs of other people.

Fortune Telling

Fortune telling is when you jump to conclusions based on beliefs about the future as though they are already realities as opposed to just predictions. When a person is experiencing negative feelings at the moment, they forecast that those feelings are going to last forever.


Emotional Reasoning

Feelings are not always rational and emotions have an IQ of zero so if you base all of your reactions on emotions, the chance for misinterpretation is much greater. It's better to control your emotion and use logic when communicating and making decisions.


When people personalize, they tend to believe that the actions of other people are always a direct reaction to them. Personalizing often leads to unrealistic feelings and irrational beliefs. Personalizing can make people feel very self conscious, unnecessarily guilty or responsible for circumstances that they have nothing to do with - such as other people's emotions and life issues.

Are you a distorted or a realistic thinker?

I'm a complete and total failure.
I failed this time.
Everything about my life is wrong.
I'm facing some problems.
It has to be done perfectly or I won't do it.
I will do it to the best of my ability.
This is completely wrong.
There are things about this I would change.
She did it because she hates me.
I don't know why she did it, there could be many reasons.
Everyone thinks I'm stupid.
Everyone has an opinion and some may be critical of me.
I will never be happy again.
Things are difficult now but they will get better.
All I ever feel is pain.
There is good and bad and I need to recognize them both.


It may be hard to read every situation, every exchange. You won't always have enough information to be 100% sure but it's important to always recognize that there is more than one way to interpret every connection.

Most importantly, your best tool is self control. If you can maintain self control, you are holding on to your most valuable armor.


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    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      7 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Tamara, you are right! Thank goodness we've graduated to the present century! Thank you for the great comment and for taking the time to read. -K

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 

      7 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      I think this misconception dates back to the times of the Romans, when you were assumed to consent unless you threw a raucous fit. Silence was agreement, because you only made noise if you disagreed.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      7 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Gosh, I'm not sure what to say this time! ahorseback, you are too kind. I was born in the gray and without a single sense of logic in my veins. However I learned over the last 41 years that logic and self control make my life a lot easier! LOL. Thank you for your input. It's nice to hear your opinion. -K

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      awesome ! Again, , man !could everyone read this and learn something , over and over again ! I tell myself constantly , most issues are grey , not black and white !.........:-}

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      7 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      MsDora, thank you for reading, voting commenting. The door photo happened by accident but it sure worked out perfectly! I appreciate your input. -K

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      7 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very good article with many important details. Good job! I like the door picture. It could accommodate so many different interpretations. interpretations. Voted up and useful.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      7 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      liftandsoar, love your comment. Made me smile too :) thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate that you shared my hub. -K

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 

      7 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Excellent! About to share with friends and family members who, of course never listen to me. I'm sure it is because they don't like me. I will never feel accepted by them. I can just feel it! :-)


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