When What’s Unsaid is Heard Differently

Have any of you ever not known what to say to someone because anything that you say or do is going to be construed in a manner that you never meant? I have. I’ve been known to blunder with my verbiage and actions quite a bit. I can come across quite menacing when I don’t even realize that I’ve done it. Many of my friends and colleagues have said that I have a look or a stance that can be interpreted as a “Get out of my way” position. It’s not that I mean to be perceived that way, it’s just part of who I am. My body language can be misleading.

I’ve always tried to be very laid back. But even doormats get tired of being walked on after a time. The fact remains that when a person holds inside everything that they are feeling, sooner or later, those emotions are going to become a volcano. That’s why it’s imperative to deal with emotions before they bubble up inside and you can’t control the emotions that take over. Most people that know me well will tell you that most of the time I’m way too nice for my good. I tend to give and give and give until I have nothing left to give and then I’m taxed. I don’t always recognize how taxed I am until it comes to dealing with people.

Sometimes it isn’t what we say but rather the way we say it that comes across as being rude or uncaring. You can tell by someone’s tone what kind of attitude they are delivering. You may even wonder what you did to deserve the snippy tones that are delivered. What all of us have to remember is that it isn’t always us that is the problem. If you see someone treating others well and you cold, chances are high that you are the target of a perceived issue. In those cases, trying to talk things out is often best but there are some folks that talking won’t solve anything. You have to use your judgment on when to walk away from toxicity in your life.

Over the last few years, I’ve had to work on my demeanor. When I get nervous I tend to ramble or clam up, depending on who I’m dealing with. Especially if my nerves are rattled because someone has frustrated me or gotten me agitated. I didn’t realize how my actions came across until a good friend informed me that I have a switch that just gets changed. My intent wouldn’t be conveyed in a kind demeanor even though internally I thought I was doing good things.

We have to remember a few core concepts. The first is to Listen. Listening isn’t just a word for convenience. We have to take out the noise around us and focus on different variables. Listen for the tone that a person is exuding. Listen to the words but also listen to what their nonverbals may be saying. We all get shaken at different points in our lives. We all lash out when we don’t mean to. The key is being willing to admit that we aren’t perfect and there are many issues in our lives that we all need to adjust. When we do this, we can focus better.

This is one of the biggest issues that I have with social media and other venues. The world has gotten so politically correct that we hear assumptions in what people say. Someone could say that they hate the color orange and another person might interpret that to mean that they detest orange people, or anything associated with the color orange or even what they believe to be associated with the color orange. Society jumps to conclusions on too many issues. No wonder we all feel like we walk a tightrope every day. Every word that we say has to be monitored because we step on toes. Well, guess what? Tough. There’s a lot of things that need to be said and censorship does nothing but hide the truth. The truth is that the day we are not allowed to speak our minds and to voice all opinions is the day that we might as well fold up our tents and die. Societies and people can not evolve if they are conditioned to think alike. Why do you think so many artists are revered because they make people think? I can’t begin to tell you how many conversations I’ve had on social media where words were twisted and never intended the way people took them. I’ve seen it on many posts. There’s always going to be people who start a fight. How we respond to that fight determines what others hear.

I’ve mentioned nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication happens every day with virtually every single one of us. It’s in the way that we walk and correspond with one another, it’s in our facial expressions, our body language and our gestures. Somebody could be smiling to your face and flipping you off the minute your back is turned. There’s a lot of animosity and jealousy in this world. Sometimes being able to recognize drama before it gets to a full blast mode can help to reduce stress and incorrect assumptions.

I guess what I’m trying to convey is this. If you know that you are dealing with a lot of stress, you may need to find healthy outlets to assist you with how you are perceived. We all have our breaking points. Every day won’t be perfect. There’s always going to be people who can push your buttons but you have the power to control how you are perceived. When all else fails, stay kind. Nothing grates on companies nerves more than irate customers who are sugary sweet. I’ve done this to a few customer service reps when I wanted to tell them where to stuff it. I’ve found that the saying of “You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar” is true. How we communicate with each other matters. Being stressed and rubbing off on others with stress can make all of us agitated. Stay focused and calm. Listen to each other. You don’t know what battles someone is fighting. If you can remain a calm and centered person, you might start hearing what’s being said. Sometimes it’s a call for help and attention. Other times it’s a call for peace.

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