Mixed Messages

It’s easy to get confused when people consistently give you mixed messages. Not to sound like a high school or by any means, but imagine being in the beginning stages of a relationship, and you’re not sure if somebody is into you or not. One moment they act like they are, and they’re brushing you off the next minute. It’s enough to make you think you’re getting whiplash. One of the most confusing aspects is when people expect you to know what they believe. I’ve seen people act like they’re my best friend one moment and then turn around and stab me in the back metaphorically. But there is one constant with all of this that remains true, and that is when people send you mixed messages, it’s challenging to ascertain what to do next. There are a few things you can do to minimize these mixed messages.

  1. Do not jump to conclusions or assume anything. This item can be tricky if you have an analytical mind like I do because you tempt yourself to read into everything, but you have no clue what’s happening inside somebody else’s head. Don’t waste too much energy wondering what’s happening on the other end. Eventually, time will tell you more than you ever wanted to know.
  2. Take off your blinders. Love and relationships have ways of clouding our thinking. Make sure you’re assessing the relationships accurately. It doesn’t matter if it’s personal or professional because we all have various types of relationships that blinder blinders can often interfere with what’s going on.
  3. Don’t take it too personally. Usually, mixed signals have nothing to do with you, so don’t jump to conclusions and think it has everything to do with you. It might, but chances are it doesn’t.
  4. Back off. Give the person or people time to have some breathing room. Sometimes the more you try to figure out what’s wrong and talk to other people, the more damage you can have in the long run.
  5. Recognize the other person may have something going on. I think it’s a safe bet to say that confusing behavior might lie within that person’s life, circumstances, fears, past hurts, or situations that they experienced.
  6. Don’t be demanding. Listen, one of the worst things you can do is become insistent about why somebody didn’t call you or what took them so long. You don’t need to add salt to the wound because all you’re doing is creating more resentment when you do that. If you have a little patience, it goes a long way. 
  7. Recognize that there’s a tug-of-war emotionally happening. Look, most of us have this push-pull phenomenon common to relationships. It’s a pretty safe bet that if you push somebody too much, they usually will pull away from you. If you don’t want a tug-of-war and move your partner away, don’t do it because it’s damaging in the long run.
  8. Ask yourself if you’re a part of the problem. Insecurity is a beast because it can make you feel like you aren’t controlling a situation. When that happens, you can send out mixed signals for yourself, which can make matters even worse. Take a moment to take a step back and evaluate what’s going on. If you suspect you are part of the problem, figure out ways to become the solution.
  9. Get a second opinion. I know this statement sounds like a cliche but do it anyway. Sometimes getting a second opinion can help us gain clarity in ways we never thought. When we trust our friends and people closest to us to give objective thoughts, sometimes they can’t, but getting a second opinion is often the best medicine we can take.

One of the things that we all have in common is that none of us can control what somebody else does or doesn’t do, but there are things that we can control, like how we respond to them. For instance, if you receive a mixed message without necessarily explaining or demanding a change, you can send what you perceive back to the sender in both scenarios. This skill can help clear up your confusion of thoughts and feelings. If you report what was said and what you observed, you can describe the behaviors as you see them. When you communicate in this way, the sender is usually more likely to respond positively and reasonably. If you react in a way that comes across as attacking, blaming, contemptuous, or sarcastic, the sinner will more than likely be immensely hurt, angry and defensive.

Here’s an example you can say something when words don’t match the words that you’re saying, like, “I’m confused. Last week you said you thought that part-time employees shouldn’t work that much and this way you’re saying that they shouldn’t work closer to full time. Which is it?” Or “I have no clue what to do because you say you want me to show you how I feel, but you push me away when I do.” Or how about “you tell everybody you’re fine, but yet you don’t look fine.” All of these sentences can be confusing and send mixed messages.

If any of those examples sound familiar, it’s because they probably are, and that can be not very clear. It frustrates me to no end when somebody tells me what I should think or feel. But then they turn around and give the mixed messages of being concerned about my feelings even though they’ve specifically informed me of what I should be.

Usually, people sending mixed messages don’t realize that they’re doing it. Still, when bringing it to their attention regarding the matter, they have the opportunity to clarify what they mean. When you send your feedback to another individual, it’s like holding a mirror up to them because they can see clearly what they said and how someone might interpret it. It gives them a chance to clarify any confusion and bring clarity to a confusing topic.

So if you’re getting mixed messages, realize that you’re not the only one who deals with this because there are many who not only send mixed messages but receive them as well. You may not always be able to prevent it, but at least being aware of your actions can better equip you and others to avoid mass confusion in the long run. Have a great day, everyone.

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