I was reading a book the other day to improve my understanding of people in business and politics and how the world works in reality. Yes, I know that’s kind of geeky but I love that stuff. But what became clear very quickly was how it crossed over into the realm of relationships.
And that’s where I asked myself, why do we misunderstand each other and act weird when we do? I don’t mince words. I typically say exactly what I mean but why did my wife misunderstand me and then we both act weird. Or why does your husband misunderstand you.
I think you’ll enjoy the excerpt form Frank I. Luntz book “Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say That Matters, It’s What People Hear” that I picked out for you. It delivers a powerful message. Again, this is from a book that is not about relationships but if you read this passage with your relationship mind you’ll quickly discover what I’m talking about and why it is effective.
It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear. You can have the best message in the world, but the person on the receiving end will always understand it through the prism of his or her own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and preexisting beliefs. It’s not enough to be correct or reasonable or even brilliant. The key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself right into your listener’s shoes to know what they are thinking and feeling in the deepest recesses of their mind and heart. How that person perceives what you say is even more real, at least in a practical sense, than how you perceive yourself.
When someone asks me to illustrate the concept of “words that work,” I tell them to read Orwell’s 1984—and then see the movie. In particular, I refer them to the book passage that describes Room 101—or as Orwell basically describes it, the place where everyone’s personal, individual nightmares come true. If your greatest fear is snakes, you open the door to a room full of snakes. If your fear is drowning, your Room 101 fills to the brim with water. To me, this is the most frightening, horrific, imaginative concept ever put on paper, simply because it encourages you to imagine your own Room 101. Words that work, whether fiction or reality, not only explain but also motivate. They cause you to think as well as act. They trigger emotion as well as understanding.
Do you get that? It’s not about what you said or how you said it. It’s about how he filtered what you said and how you sounded to him. Once you get that one concept… all by itself… it has the ability to transform your relationship to a new level of understanding and connection. Understand this concept and you’ll begin to gain a level of relatedness with your partner you’ve probably never had before.
But the question becomes…
How can you know how he hears you?
The first thing that comes to mind is to ask him.
If you say something and he misunderstands you, instead of scolding him or getting upset and shutting down, ask him to feed back to you what he heard and what it meant to him. Do that and you can begin to get on the same footing and level the playing field. Now you can begin to understand each other more clearly. Doing this is like wiping a dirty window with some window cleaner.
But here’s the truth about it. This is just one aspect that you’ll break through. Consider that we all have hundreds, possibly thousands, of filters that we hear, see, taste, and smell through. Obviously we don’t have to break down every single filter. But by understanding that there is more than one you can begin to take on your relationships at an intimate level as well as at work in a different way.
It definitely gives you a new way of viewing things.
What can you do now that you know this?
Now that you know all this you can begin to see the depth and complexity of your man. Sometimes he may open up to you. Sometimes he won’t. I urge you to talk to him as often as possible. Understand him as much as you can. If he won’t open up on a particular topic consider talking to another man. It’s not the perfect solution but it will help.
And if you want to get a quick overview of what your man thinks, I ask that you visit Amazon.com and pick up a copy this amazing book called A$$holes to Zipper Heads: A to Z Guide For Choosing A Man, it will give you an eye opening look at your own filters and how they have caused you to choose the man you have now and in the past. The insight will be tremendous and it already has 3 Five Star reviews.
I hope this article has been helpful. Until next time…
Love… to infinity and beyond.