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Why Don't People Understand Me?

Updated on October 13, 2018

Feeling misunderstood

Most people want to feel understood. It's tempting to think that close friends or partners should be able to read our minds. This just isn't the case, any more than you can read theirs.

Keeping communication clear and open will help. Voice your concerns in a way other people can relate to. Being defensive or aggressive will make the situation worse. Be prepared to explain your points in an easily understood way.

Feeling misunderstood?
Feeling misunderstood? | Source

Speak up

X had a problem she was rather embarrassed about. When she tried talking to a friend, X spoke more and more quietly, until her voice was a mere whisper.

Her friend kept asking her to repeat what she was saying, leaning forwards to catch the words. This made X even more uncomfortable. Her friend said, " Sorry, I can't understand you."

X felt crushed and ended the conversation, leaving without resolving the issue. She didn't realize her friend literally couldn't hear what was being said.

The same thing may happen if you try to speak to someone in a busy place, say at a party.

Timing your approach

If the person you want to speak to is in a rush, overtired, or engrossed in a film, that's not the best time to look for help. For one thing, they will be preoccupied, and for another, it's not fair to expect their full attention. Of course, if your problem is urgent, you may need to go ahead anyway, but bear in mind that you may not get the response you'd hoped for.

It may seem easier to start talking after a couple of alcoholic drinks, but be aware that this may affect your judgement, and that of the other person.

Are you making yourself clear?

If you say, " I'm in a bad mood," others could take it as a warning to keep their head down and not annoy you further. You may mean, " I'm really upset," or perhaps, " I'm worried." Try to be specific.

It can be tempting to act out your feelings. Again, there's a risk that other people will misinterpret you sitting silently in a corner as sulking. This may make them wonder if they've done something wrong. It's better to say, " I need a bit of breathing space, I'm upset about something that happened at work." This takes pressure off them, and if you do later want to talk, they will be more willing to listen.

The outlook doesn't have to be bleak
The outlook doesn't have to be bleak | Source

Talk to the right people

If you have a problem, it's worth seeking out people who can really help. For instance, you may feel that nobody understands a medical condition you're living with. In all honesty, someone who doesn't have the condition will not be able to fully relate. So it's worth looking for a support group.

There are many on-line groups where you can interact with people in the same boat as yourself. You can swap advice, find a sympathetic ear, or offer support to others. It's okay to have a rant, let off some steam, and you can learn a lot from reading people's comments. The basic problem remains, but at least you'll feel more understood.

If you'd rather talk to someone you know, think, who is a good listener? Some people have trouble paying attention. They may lack concentration, or be uncomfortable talking about certain things. If you think to yourself, "Z never understands what I'm trying to say," then Z isn't the best person to approach.

Be realistic

Not everyone will understand you all the time. The best thing you can do in some situations is make sure you understand yourself. That way, you can be clearer about what message you are trying to put across, and the outcome you'd hope for when sharing your feelings.

By taking some responsibility on yourself, you stand a much better chance of being understood.

In summary

People are not mind readers

Speak up and be clear

Try to time your approach sensibly

Talk to the right people

Be realistic in your expectations

Remember other people feel the same way

Consider professional help

If you feel constantly misunderstood, it may be worth talking to your doctor. They can check if you have underlying depression. You may be offered referral to a counsellor, who can help you see things in a different light.

Pink - Don't Let Me Get Me


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    • innerspin profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Kennedy 

      7 years ago from uk

      Hi Kate, good to have your comment, thanks.

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 

      7 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      This is a very practical hub. I especially like the bit where you said that you have to understand yourself because there is no way anyone else can understand you if you don't have this insight in the first place. Thanks for sharing this- it was a good read.

    • innerspin profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Kennedy 

      7 years ago from uk

      Thank you, sallybea, good communication may take effort, but is so worthwhile.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      7 years ago from Norfolk

      Sometimes communication in this busy world can be a difficult thing. At times does seems that everyone is just too busy just getting on with the business of living and don't always find time to communicate properly. Some really good points here, thanks for sharing.

    • innerspin profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Kennedy 

      7 years ago from uk

      Hi FlourishAnyway. It's tempting to think those closest to us instinctively know things, but often that's not the case. Thanks for commenting.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      These are good points. People are not mind readers, and the timing and delivery of communication are important. I agree with your advice to consider getting professional help if one feels a prolonged sense of feeling misunderstood by "everyone."

    • innerspin profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Kennedy 

      7 years ago from uk

      Thank you, janshares, I appreciate your comment.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      7 years ago from Washington, DC

      Insightful piece, innerspin. It is very important to understand yourself by cultivating self-awareness. This hub is informative and can be helpful for those who need it.

    • innerspin profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Kennedy 

      7 years ago from uk

      Thanks, billybuc. It's not always easy, is it?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions....for me it was a matter of communicating and allowing others to get to know me. If I don't speak there is very little chance of people understanding me. :)


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