Misunderstandings...How to Understand, Identify and Rectify before it is too late?

If you are not able to zero down what has created unnecessary havoc in your life, relationship or business, then you might be forgetting a dreaded word called "Misunderstanding". Misunderstanding is the chief spoiler, the dangerous terminator, bad bug or the real ugly villain of the story. Whereas "Understanding" is the main key for positive meaningful rewarding relationships with your significant other, family and friends for fulfilling happy personal life, with clients, employees and vendors for a growing thriving business and with superiors, co-workers and subordinates in a successful career. It is no brain-er to first of all prevent any sort of misunderstanding and if they appear then detect them early and weed them out from the root without risking the spread.

Understand the Beast:

Understanding "Misunderstanding" is easy. It is a wrong interpretation of the fact which is so real in the mind of thinker that it appears as the reality or truth. Mind which is so powerful in connecting right dots is also equally capable of quickly creating wrong associations most of the time driven by the fears, insecurities, past experiences or sometimes just sheer bad timing. The good news is that everything is fixable if it is a "real misunderstanding" and not a cover up, dishonest excuses or made up story.

Types of Misunderstandings:

There are two types of Misunderstandings.

  1. Some or Partial Misunderstanding
  2. Complete or Absolute Misunderstanding

Some or Partial Misunderstanding: In milder form of "Some Misunderstanding" there is at least some doubt, some room to think otherwise and being open for more possibilities. This is one of the rare places in life where having a "doubt" actually helps. Just like everything and everyone has good and bad sides, this is the real good side of "doubt" which makes its existence meaningful. Doubt at least makes you communicate with the other person. Communication is the remedy and cure of Misunderstanding. The better, more effective, honest and straight forward clear communication, the more situation improves and moves in the right direction of "Understanding" and the final destination of "Clear Understanding".

Complete or Absolute Misunderstanding: In "Complete Misunderstanding" there is no doubt of ambiguity. The person who misunderstood is completely convinced and closed. The person reaches a premature conclusion which if it is the "real" misunderstanding situation than it can be lethal. Moreover the unhappy and sometimes angry confused person blocks all the communication making things more challenging.

Possible Scenarios of Misunderstandings:
If we break things down, "Misunderstanding" can exist in only two scenarios:

Both parties have misunderstandings for each other: This scenario is the most difficult to rectify as everyone involved think that they are right and no one take responsibility to clarify the doubts and the blinding fog. Despite being difficult this is very much possible to again attain the holy grail of "Understanding", the only thing really essential is the desire or will to do the clean-up.

One party misunderstands and other understands: This scenario is quite common and is not too difficult to overcome. The problem is only 50%. The one who understands and has the clarity must be really hopeful and relentlessly keep on taking actions with enough patience to keep moving things in right direction up to the successful completion. There will be slips and the going will get tougher than usual though just like anything else quitters never win and those who don't give up, persevere finally makes it.

Identify Misunderstandings:          

"A mistake is to commit a misunderstanding." - Bob Dylan

Just like anything else, early detection is the key. Misunderstandings have evil powers to convert any sensible well-educated sane person into a complete idiot, fool and moron making that person start behaving abnormally, stupidly and destructively. Some of the manifestations, symptoms and behaviors are below:

Communication break-down: Free flying tones of emails halt and there is no response, not even an one liner. SMS text messages which used to get sent on real-time with the occurrence of thoughts and feelings disappear. Phone calls are either not taken or not returned. There is a believable excuse of being busy from the same person who was equally busy earlier!

Easy Convenient Incorrect Rationalization: The misunderstandings can act as a trigger point to open the Pandora box of past and the wrong unpleasant episodes happened. The worst is that they get mixed up with the current impasse. This make situation further difficult despite of presenting a great opportunity of massive clean up of not only present misunderstanding but also the past clog-ups. Ultimately the confused person becomes judgmental with the logical reasons which are in reality nothing but the easy convenient incorrect rationalizations. This is a "flight" response rather than "fight". An Ostrich syndrome, an evasion or escape from facing the discomfort of reality which might not be in accordance to the made-up biased mind.

Lose-lose situation: The result of Misunderstanding is not just a breakup or coldness of relationship it is also a severe loss of things which really mean in life and can be combination of love, trust, friendship, family, happiness or even life itself. Neither party wins and there is a clear lose-lose worst case scenario.
Rectify the Misunderstandings:

Communicate: Communication is the first step. Use any means whatsoever. If direct communication is hindered and rejected than use indirect ones such as impersonal blogs! Just keep the life blood of communication flowing. It is like an oxygen and till the time it will remain at least the things will be alive. So even if the things are not resolved, in this action phase everything needed must be done to achieve desired outcomes. Communicate with positivity, patience and kindness. In the words of 1952 Nobel Prize winner Albert Schweitzer, "As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate."

Validate: Validation is the next step. Validation is done in many scientific fields such as "data" validation in information technology or in bio-tech or pharmaceutical fields. No action is taken unless the data is validated as corrupted wrong data is sure to bring wrong output. Similarly here in the situation of "misunderstanding" every single piece which has a doubt and corresponding interpretation and conclusion must be validated with the other person involved. And if there is a difference in assumed version then one must be open to investigate the really rather than just believing the perceived reality.

Decide: Do not take any decision unless the validation phase is complete. Though it is only human to be skeptical and even judgemental, do not take any actions which you might regret later on. Hold on to take decisions and subsequent actions based on decisions unless there is a sufficient clarity and you have done your needful due diligence. This is a dangerous make-or-break phase though at least the risk is minimized by putting this phase in the very end which is the right sequence. There can be three outcomes: 1) Guilty; 2) Partially Guilty or 3) Not Guilty.

Act & Rectify Permanently from the Source:

  1. If you conclude that the other person is indeed at fault and you are right than it is not a misunderstanding. In this scenario you must take appropriate corrective actions as per the severity of the situation and the background and history with the guilty. Communicating your decision with the other person is the best thing to do because there might be the reasons and situations why the other person did what was done and listening to them will not be of any harm and rather be therapeutic for everyone involved.
  2. In case of some partial fault where over-thinking coupled with false perception might have made the mountain out of the mole, be fair and reasonable with your negative reinforcement. This might be an educative experience which can be constructive for mutual relationship. Communicate clearly and honestly what you imagined, felt or disliked to the other person else it might be a lost opportunity for that other person to know you better, to be aware of the affects of self behavior and actions, to correct if needed or to avoid in future. Just like the hits shape the metal into a beautiful ornament, chiseling makes a nice statue and pressure converts a carbon into precious diamond, such challenges can be the bricks of which relationships are made of.
  3. If you decide that your misunderstanding is pure fiction, a mind trick and a mistake on your part then show enough courage to accept, acknowledge and express that to self and other person. Do not remain in denial mode. Finally take right correction actions as in-actions will only end up in regrets. Hopefully the whole drill of the painful episode results in the happy end of stronger, better and improved relationship and understanding with some bonus of future learning of do's and don'ts. And all is well, when the end is well.