Have you ever been frustrated at the failing of others to understand you? I certainly have.
I had a long term falling out with my brother. I became very frustrated as he simply would not listen to my point of view, and after much back and forth that got nastier and nastier, I frankly decided he could jump in the lake — as I was unwilling to argue with him any longer.
The dispute went on for months, and months. We were no longer on speaking terms, and neither of us were willing to do anything about it.
And then my mother, upset by the fact that her two grown children, were no longer talking, pulled me aside. It had been a long time since I received a parental lesson – but that’s what I got.
She pointed out that my brother did not understand what I had done – and my explanation had not made sense to him. When he had asked for clarification, I had exploded in frustration and things had gone from bad to worse in no time.
My mother asked me just one question.
“Did you do everything you could to be understood? “
There was a long lag as I searched through my many justifications, reasons and explanations for why I had not. Details on why I had been angry. Why I had been frustrated with his questions. And even why he was wrong and I was not.
But no matter, the answer was a simple one.
No – I had not done everything I could to be understood.
And that one simple question had me go back to my brother, and with the encouragement and persistence of my mother, I made sure that my original communication was both received and understood.
And miraculously… the war ended.
It was just finished.
Seems too simple – but really, I never made sure that he DID get me.
My view had been that it was not my responsibility. Duh!
“The subject of incomprehensibility is difficult to comprehend. If we examine the communication formula, we discover that a duplication at effect must take place if a communication is to be received from the cause-point of the line.
“Similarly, the cause-point of the line has to take into account the fact that effect must be able to duplicate. Thus, the cause-point of the line, if it wishes to communicate, must communicate in a fashion or in a guise which can be duplicated at the effect point of the line. This is not a question of being so stupid or incomprehensible as to cause an effect on any incomprehensibility, but it is a willingness to self-determinedly emanate in such a manner as to allow a duplication to take place at effect.”
PAB 44 21 Jan 1955 Two Way Communication in Action