ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Misunderstandings: Some Causes and How to Avoid Them

Updated on April 13, 2018
MsDora profile image

MsDora, former teacher and Certified Christian Counselor shares tips for smooth relationships with friends and encounters with strangers.

Misunderstandings happen in the most loving relationships. They usually begin with misinterpretations of what is said, no evil intention necessary.

Given our human imperfections, especially in our communication skills, they are likely to happen again and again; therefore, it makes sense to learn from our misunderstandings when they occur.

Credit: Kyle Stevens
Credit: Kyle Stevens | Source

Misinterpretation: An Illustration

The four year old girl was playing with her red beach ball. She threw it against the brick fence then ran to pick it up and throw it again. In the past weeks, she had done the same thing without any problem, but today the ball was not cooperating, she thought. Every time she bent down to pick it up, she felt a pain in her side. She blamed the ball for the pain, and refused to pick it up. That night, she had emergency surgery to remove an inflamed appendix.

The Fact

  • Her side hurt.

The Misinterpretation

  • The ball must have initiated the pain.

The Correct Interpretation

  • Her internal organ was inflamed (something a child may not understand)
  • Bending over for the ball aggravated the situation
  • The pain had an internal origin.

It is the nature of children and other inexperienced individuals to misinterpret the facts. With reference to this episode, this article will illustrate how misinterpretation of a fact can create major misunderstandings in a discussion. Knowing how they are created could heighten our awareness of our contribution; it could also help us understand and sympathize with others who contribute unintentionally. In addition, misunderstandings say that individuals are usually guilty of one or more of the following four imperfections which cause the problem.

(1) Faulty Assumptions

In this incident the child made a faulty assumption, for which we can cite a good excuse: she was a child, did not understand the cause of her pain, probably never heard of an appendix. Similarly, adults make assumptions which are excusable based on their limited knowledge, or misinterpretation of the facts, among other reasons. The problem with faulty assumptions in a discussion is that the person making them expects everyone to receive them as fact. On the other hand, listeners find it difficult to hear the faulty assumption without labeling the speaker as foolish, or conceited. Major misunderstandings concerning “Who do you think you are?” can occur when the only mishap is misinterpretation.

Credit: Timfly
Credit: Timfly | Source

(2) Misplaced Focus

From the start, the little girl focused on the ball as the culprit. Generally, it is easier for individuals to select something outside them, rather than something within them, as the cause of the problem. It is a kind of defense mechanism to protect one’s self from facing reality. For example, in a discussion the individual sooner blames the other person’s tone of voice than his or her own guilt feelings aroused by the words; or focus on the wrong use of a word rather than admit resentment for the person speaking. The tendency is to ignore or cover up selfish peeves while identifying attributes in the other person as the triggers for the misunderstanding.

(3) Prejudice

Without learning the correct interpretation of her situation, that little girl could grow up with an intense dislike for red beach balls. She might develop such hatred that she becomes prejudiced against anyone who owns one. Whereas an assumption expects everyone to believe, prejudice goes further and condemns everyone who does not. Discussion on religious, political or cultural differences sometimes cause misunderstandings (quarrels, falling out) among friends. The notion that a personal belief is the only right one is another major cause for misunderstandings. It does not take into consideration that people with different beliefs can be as happy or as moral. It creates a false sense of superiority.

(4) Poor Listening Skills

This may be the simplest, but not in any way less responsible for misunderstandings. Imagine the young girl relating her experience to someone who interrupts with a tale of his or her personal surgery, or who keeps asking for time out to take a phone call, or whose body language and facial expressions suggest disinterest. The listener will likely miss key points of the story and make irrelevant observations. The ensuing conversation will run on different frequencies and ideas will not connect. This could be the kind of conversation in which both conclude, “He wasn’t making sense,” or “All she did was confuse me.”

Posture of An Effective Listener

Credit Ajwin 11
Credit Ajwin 11 | Source

Which of these five flaws would you have to try the hardest to control?

See results

Suggestions to Avoid Misunderstandings

The sooner we recognize them, the easier it becomes to lessen the impact of misunderstandings in relationships,—love, business or other. Here are a few suggestions, beginning with the reverse of what causes them. Practice as often as possible.

  • Develop proper listening skills.
  • Back away from the notion that you are the most qualified ever.
  • Accept that your assumption could be faulty.
  • Realize that you cause your own feelings. Say “I feel” instead of “You make me feel.”
  • Avoid stern countenances; smile when appropriate.
  • Consider the interests of others.
  • Ask questions to help clarify the message.
  • Confess error when necessary; give and accept forgiveness.

© 2013 Dora Weithers

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Moonlake, thank you for reading, commenting and voting. I appreciate you.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 

      4 years ago from America

      Interesting hub. I enjoyed reading it and the comments. Voted up.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, strictlydating. Your kind comment is an encouragement to me.

    • stricktlydating profile image

      StricktlyDating 

      5 years ago from Australia

      And interesting topic and great advice as usual MsDora. I really enjoy reading your work :)

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Mylinda, glad you can diagnose yourself. Misunderstandings will be around for ever. We just have to be careful to minimize them. Thanks for your comment.

    • mylindaelliott profile image

      mylindaelliott 

      5 years ago from Louisiana

      That was a very good explanation. I find most of the time I just missed the meaning of things. I had misplaced focus.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Rajan, thanks for your input. I appreciate, you read, your comments and your votes.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      A useful hub with an interesting perspective and you are right, listening skills have to be honed sharp along with other skills so as to not misunderstand what others say and do.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Hi Angela, thanks for your comment. The best to you, too.

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      5 years ago from Central Texas

      Great Hub and loved the first sign -- faulty assumptions go a long way toward unrest and dissention! Best/Sis

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Denise, since you understand what's going on with you, I hope that makes it easier to correct and replace the faulty assumption. Can't tell the reason for your fear. Your presentations on HP are way above average. For that alone, I'd want you on my team. Thank you for sharing.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      5 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I find that the one I have the worst problem with is the faulty assumptions. I assume that other people don't like me when they don't hear what I am saying, rather than realizing that they may have things going on in their lives that keep their mind occupied. It is easy to do, especially since I fear being rejected by others.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Manatita, your mischief is welcome. I'm sure that I did not grow any of the food items here, but this recipe is all mine, thank you (smile). Happy to create something you enjoy.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      5 years ago from london

      I enjoyed this one a lot. Very pertinent and also well written. 'The five imperfections?' You took this from somewhere, right? Chuckle and mischief intended here. I will probably one day write a piece on the five cardinal sins.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      DDE, I agree with you. There are enough misunderstandings within the family to give us the experience of dealing with them in other forums. Thank you for your input.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Misunderstandings and What They Say about Us so agree with you MsDora. Many understandings should be straightened at home usually it starts from the home. great hub!

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      You're so right, Faith Reaper. The child has the excuse of being a child, but as adults who should be wiser, we're just as limited. Thank you for your input.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      5 years ago from southern USA

      Hi MsDora,

      What a pertinent topic for this day for me, and I know you are giving the example of the child, but I have found we adults are just as guilty of especially those false assumptions which cause so many misundertandings! Thank you for this insightful hub here, and we must be mindful of all of these factors you have pointed out here.

      Voted up +++ and sharing

      God bless, Faith Reaper

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you Romeos for reading and sharing. I appreciate your input. Nice meeting you on HP.

    • Romeos Quill profile image

      Romeos Quill 

      5 years ago from Lincolnshire, England

      A great article here MsDora, and that first photo sign of yours just about sums it up lol!

      Misinterpretation runs riot I've found, especially when one is trying to conduct an emotionally-laden conversation with a girlfriend through private e-mail. Nuances in body language absent, tone of voice received, but not understood, sometimes totally missed altogether, and regional and cultural differences lend even more confusion to what can often turn into a comedy of errors.

      Thank you for a useful Hub, and sharing.

      Yours Sincerely,

      R.Q.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Pstraubie, thanks for sending the angels and for your affirmation on the article. Glad you're leaving the faulty assumption trap behind.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Billy, I love your honesty. No wonder you're such a great teacher! Thanks for your input.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Frank, your story makes me smile, too. See how a misinterpretation could change a story completely? Thank you.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you, lovedoctor. Glad you like the example. I was that foolish little girl, and I've never forgotten my silly, childish, faulty assumption.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      5 years ago from sunny Florida

      The problem with faulty assumptions in a discussion is that the person making them expects everyone to receive them as fact. On the other hand, listeners find it difficult to hear the faulty assumption without labeling the speaker as foolish, or conceited. Even the character comes under scrutiny, and a major misunderstanding concerning “Who do you think you are?” can occur when the only mishap is a misinterpretation."

      This is so true.

      It is easy to fall into this trap and I used to be very guilty of this very thing. However I have LEARNED and am thankful I have.

      thank you so much for sharing this

      Angels are on the way to you this afternoon ps shared

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting analogy, Dora, and your conclusions are right on. False assumptions are my downfall usually when there is a misunderstanding...but I realize that fact and I'm working on it. :)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      5 years ago from Shelton

      MsDora what a fun hub you have here.. I mean fun because it brought back a misunderstanding when a Vacuum sales person said come on you gotta by Electro Lux this vacuum really sucks...:) good job

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 

      5 years ago

      Useful information. I like the red beach ball example that you used. The fact that the ball aggravated her condition sounds more like it rather than bending to pick up the ball caused the pain and you have demonstrated this very clearly. Great tips and suggestions. Voted up!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)