Saturday, January 17, 2015


The other day I posted the following on Facebook:

Sometimes I do not know what a person is thinking when they say something. If I question it, it is because I seek to understand; that is all it is. I find sometimes my questioning makes for defensiveness. That is not my intention in any way. I could say nothing, or simply say "thank you" or go wherever I go on my own...but my guess is you would like for me to get where you are coming from. Sometimes we think it has to be obvious to the other person - esp when it is obvious to us...but, if you think about it, it often is anything but...isn't it?

I posted it after I had a series of interactions that are unfortunately not too uncommon these days. I have noticed it both online, and in person.

I ask a question, and the person goes off on an unnecessary, and sometimes defensive, tangent. In person, I can try to pull the reins in almost as quickly as it seems to happen. In text, and posts, though, it can tend to become an even bigger issue, even as I try to "fix" it. I am sure there have been cases in which I am on the troublesome side of the equation, acting on something I think I know, rather than what the person intended.

From the few responses I received, I can tell I am not the only one who has experienced this, and it seems there is a trending in the direction of apathy when it comes to communication.

People don't want to be attacked, so instead of asking questions, or seeking understanding, they decide it is not worth it. If this is happening a lot, then it may be no wonder we have all kinds of conflicts and misunderstandings and breakdown.

No one wants to be attacked, so they avoid things whenever possible, and if you avoid things, you are not the only one. What you do to others, they are also doing to you at some point.

It is no wonder people do not want to stand up for themselves. It can be problematic in unanticipated ways that are guided by the interpretation of those they are interacting with.

I was talking to someone about my blog. I was curious about how the overall tone might seem to someone. Their response? It would depend on the mood/perspective of the person reading it.

It makes perfect sense. There have been many times people will interpret what I say and write quite differently than I intended. I often feel compelled to respond in cases like that, which often feeds the fire.

Occasionally I will just not respond, especially if I do not have the energy, and think it could escalate. But, in general, I am looking to have the most clear and open communications I have ever had in my life these days.

Sometimes there is a cost attached. Other times, the rewards can be really great.

When you speak your mind, and are not afraid of stepping on people's toes, there are times you might just step on people's toes. Am I doing it intentionally? No. Do I want to hurt or anger anyone? More than likely, no. 

What I am seeking to do is to understand - and be understood. The only way that is going to happen is if we are willing to take risks, and allow others to, too. We have to stop being defensive, and recognize when others are feeling defensive, and work with them - as much as possible. We have to respect the opinions of others - as well as our own. We have to be open to the idea that we can be wrong (I know! Crazy idea, isn't it?!) We have to stop thinking we know everything - especially the things we think we understand - and start questioning things more for clarification. After all, how often have you found yourself upset about something that wasn't even true, or accurate?

The minute you stop caring what people think is the minute you have a better shot at actually relating to them. However, there are trade-offs, and it certainly ain't easy.

But it also ain't easy to shut yourself down, either. That takes a lot of energy, too. And there are also costs attached.

I don't know about you, but in the world in which we live I do not think communicating less and shutting down more is going to help make things better. The only way we are going to understand where another is coming from is by being willing to interact - and truly listen. 

It doesn't mean we have to agree, and that might be a lesson to be learned, as well. I do not believe communication's purpose is agreement. If I was going to make a guess, I would say it is empathy and understanding.

And if we shut down communication, then we've shut down our ability to be empathic with another. That may not seem like a big deal right now. You might be getting along just fine, thank you very much.

But that is about you. YOU may not need empathy and understanding, but what of someone who does? It could very well be you are in a position to be of some assistance. 

Why are we in a world of people if we are not meant to interact - in times of Good AND bad?

Maybe you have every (good) reason not to do anything, and stay with things as they are. How do you think you will feel, though, if one day things aren't so OK for you? You will likely want/hope/expect that others would be there for you, right? How will you feel if they are there for you in the way you are there for others right now?

Something to think about?

You can accomplish a whole lot more by being who you are than shutting down.

The more you are able to say what you really feel, the more you will find people who can relate. Things shift when you open your mouth. Apple carts get upset. You may get upset. But upsets happen, and then you keep going.

I really can't tell you how much better things have been for me since I opened my mouth. Some have left, some I have left, and others have shown up. 

Life shifts. Nothing is a sure and stable and permanent as we would like and want it to be. The sooner we recognize that fact, the sooner we can realize that the things we say and do do not matter nearly as much as we think they do. 

The thing that terrifies you to do or say today? It could be the thing tomorrow that confounds you as to why it was ever a big deal.

And once you make a choice to be more open, more honest, more questioning, you likely will find you like it. It might be a love/hate "I told ya so" kind of thing when it starts, but after you have been doing it a while, you are not gonna want to go back. You REALLY won't.

It is so incredibly powerful. You will feel empowered. And you will be loving yourself enough to understand who and what you want to understand, and do everything you can to be understood.

You will also know there are times to walk away, and you will.

Will it be a Happily Ever After kind of thing? Nope. There will be times true conmunication will be maddening and exhausting.

But you likely will keep coming back. Like that old cereal commercial says, "Try it. You may like it."

PS Today I started something new, and if you value my blog post(s), works of art (cedonaah.com), and/or me, I would appreciate it if you would become a patron of my work. You get to choose a monthly amount - for as little as $1, and you can cancel at any time. All that I post is still free, and this is a way for you to show your support, and help me cope with the financial ravages of cancer. http://patreon.com/jolope Thank You!


  1. Some people just don't know how to pose their questions in a manner that it doesnt come off as aggressive or putting the responder in defense mode.

    1. True enough, Mary. But even with great care taken, I still often find this to be the case.

    2. I should also add... In cases like this, patience is certainly a virtue...especially if one has to work at coming to an understanding. Is it worth it ? Only the people involved know.

  2. Sometimes you think and think about how to phrase a question in just the right, tactful way and it is still taken as attacking. If people are in bad moods for whatever reason, they may not be ready to answer questions so they will react out of frustration. It is hard to know when the responder is ready to be asked a question and when the responder is just not ready. I admit to being bad at reading minds!!!!!

    1. LOL...Reading minds, that is pretty much what it can amount to sometimes, Alyce. Thanks for coming by, and for your comment.