Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Miscommunication 102

Three times over the course of the past two weeks I have quite literally been misunderstood. That is not a track record that I can ignore. Because ... what (who) is the common denominator here?? Me!

First of all, I must recant my rant about my hair cut a week ago (Miscommunication 101). Number one, my hairdresser remedied the bad haircut immediately. I was simply unsure how it would work once I washed it and was left to deal with it in real life. It was fine. It was perhaps better than fine. Thank you, New Hairdresser. Sometimes? The professionals know best.

Second of all, when I watched Dancing With the Stars last night and took a closer look at the Kelly Pickler hair cut that I was hoping for ... her hair is much longer on top. So it is no wonder that my hairdresser left the top of my hair untouched. My words did not match up with the picture that I had given her. She went by the picture.

We (My Son) started a deck project last fall. There was not time nor resources available to complete the job and winter was on its way, so once the base of the deck was completed it was good enough to get us through the balance of the pre-winter weather. Our plan was to add perimeter seating around the deck in lieu of a railing.

Well, our endless winter taught me three things.
  1. The children that I babysit do not listen to my 'rules' unless I am hovering over them at all times and reminding them.
  2. The children that I babysit are accident prone. One of them will trip over her shadow. Or air. Daily. Another is 'the one who will get hurt'. Every time. The third? He likes to tell everyone what the 'rules' are, but he rarely heeds his own advice.
  3. I believe that I may babysit 'forever'. So anything that I do, is done with child safety in mind.
So ... the plan for perimeter seating around the deck has been abandoned (I have visions of kids climbing up and over the benches and landing head first on the ground below). I was adamant that I wanted deck railing.

This is where it started going wrong. I eyed up my neighbor's deck railing and knew in my mind that was exactly what I wanted. I found (what I thought was) similar deck railing in a flyer and showed this to My Son (who has happily resumed the Deck Project this spring). With a firm idea of exactly what I wanted, My Son went ahead and started building.

It wasn't until the actual railing started going up that I noticed that My Son and I were not on the same wavelength. He commented that he just bought one package of 'pickets' so that he could be sure that was what we needed so I (mis)understood that to mean that there was still room to change the plan. I was wrong.

It took little more than a glance at the structure to see that 'what I had hoped for' was not possible. How could this have gone so wrong? Again??

I dug through the recycling bin to recover the flyer with the picture that I had shown My Son. He has built exactly what I showed him. Once again, my words did not match up with the picture that I had given him to follow.

I questioned my hairdresser's communication skills when she did not reiterate back to me what she understood. But when she had a picture to go by, why would she question what I had asked for? Same goes for My Son.

I must take back my words and eat them. Miscommunication is a two way street. It is so easy to be misunderstood and on the flip side ... it is very easy to misunderstand what another person is telling you.

These exact words were thrown back to me recently. And they hurt. I was pointed told, "I don't think that you are understanding what I am telling you" was the exact comment. I got defensive and started simmering inside thinking to myself ... don't tell me what I am thinking. I had reiterated back what I understood and once again my words must not have matched up with what I was thinking. I had in fact completely understood correctly, but there was a miscommunication in the retelling.

The last instance was perhaps the most ideal of all three communication breakdowns. There was still a chance to remedy the miscommunication because I had communicated back what I had understood.

Communication is a two-way street. I have been feeling misunderstood a lot lately. It isn't always the other guy's fault. But I must look at my side of the equation and see what is tipping the odds against me.

If in doubt? Question. Even if you are sure you understand? Question.

These are minor little details in the realm of life. Relationships start faltering when a person feels misunderstood. We aren't mind readers. Often what we see is not what the other person means. Even when that other person is 'you'.

I'm eating crow this morning. I am amazingly quite full. I will digest my 'breakfast' and utilize it throughout the day ahead of me. Maybe there is a reason that my daycare family is not following the 'rules' around here...

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