This incident is typical of the problems we encounter when communicating. From the story we can see that the words are the same, but the interpretations are quite different. The point is: we can never assume that the meanings we apply to the words are the same as our partnerâ€™s. So what this means is that we need to check out the interpretations we are sending and receiving.
the meanings we apply to the words
are the same as our partnerâ€™s.
Itâ€™s not a good idea to say to your female partner, â€śYou look tired.â€ť Women donâ€™t interpret those words the same way men do. If you tell a man he looks tired, he will say, â€śYeah! I was up all night. Couldnâ€™t get to sleep for some reason.â€ť Whereas, a woman may interpret this to mean â€śYou look terrible.â€ť The same words, but two different meanings assigned to them.
There are other ways we get into trouble by assuming we all have the same interpretations of what we hear and see. For example, we may come home and notice that our partnerâ€™s body language seems to say that she is angry. Many of us will immediately assume that she is angry because of something we did or did not do. So, our reaction is to get angry. Perhaps when things settle down, we discover that instead of being angry, she is tired. The truth is, body language is not easy to read. Being tired and being angry has almost the same body language. So, we need to check out our interpretations of our partnerâ€™s body language.
To better understand our partnerâ€™s words and body language, we need to ask ourselves if there are other interpretations besides the ones that we have. We call this process â€śreframing.â€ť It goes like this: â€śWhen he does that, I think he is making fun of me.â€ť Instead of going with that interpretation and being angry, we simply ask ourselves, â€śIs there another way of interpreting what he did?â€ť Then the next step is to check it out with him. Consider it an opportunity to get closer to your partner.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700