Colossians 4:6 – Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
You’re walking along minding your own business when someone steps out of the shadows and blocks your way. They begin to assault you with their words, and you’re frantically trying to think of what you said or did to make your friend so angry.
Misunderstandings can happen when you may say something and have no hidden agenda and not wanting to hurt a friend, yet they seem to turn on you and want nothing to do with you.
Quickly you think through your memories and come up with one that may explain your friend’s behavior. It’s something you said. But you have no idea that your friend had been hurt by your comment.
Misunderstandings. They happen all the time whether it’s a coworker, family member or friend things can be turned from something you spoke lightly to a misunderstanding that turns a friend into an enemy.
You’d asked how things were going at work for them. Innocent to ask about you’d thought. Yet what you didn’t know at the time, your friend had received another pink slip and was on the verge of being fired. Now your friend feels like you’re attacking them as well. They think that you don’t care about them because you brought up the subject.
But you didn’t know. You really had no clue.
Here’s another, you ask a friend how their husband is doing, not knowing that he’d just confessed to be having an affair. Your friend had been hurt and was contemplating getting a divorce. But you had no clue. Maybe you should’ve if you really were a close friend.
So, you apologize to your friend saying that you were sorry for saying anything that hurt them more. They don’t let you off the hook. They yell at you and ask how you were so insensitive.
Sometimes an apology is all that’s needed and sitting down with your friend and listening to what they’ve been going though.
Let’s turn this around. You’re the one who is hurt, and your friend is not helping you. You feel like they’re accusing you and are putting the blame of the lost job and potential lost marriage on you. So, when your friend starts to ask you questions about your life, you want to have nothing to do with them. You don’t want them around at all. Listening to you is not enough. Your friend tries to offer some advice. Oh no! Wrong thing to say.
Most people who are hurting don’t want your advice. They don’t want you to say that everything will be okay. That you’re just undergoing a test. A trial. Which is supposed to make them stronger and that things will work for the good in their life.
Then it’s back to you. Even though your friend is trying to be helpful, it’s only hurtful.
What’s a friend to do? Littlethingsmatter.com has some suggestions on how to avoid misunderstandings in their article, “Six Ways to Avoid Misunderstandings.” Here are a couple. Make sure your written communications are clear. Emails are great and fast, but if you want to be sure that your meaning is clear, writing about a subject and then handing it to your co-worker or friend is a good idea. Your co-worker will have an opportunity to read and re-read your letter. And handwriting is a lost art. Taking the time to write on paper can show your co-worker that you value their opinion. Also, there’s just something about holding a letter in your hand.
Another of the article’s idea is ask others to repeat what they heard. When you ask people to repeat what they said, not only forces them to make sure they know what you said. Saying it back can reduce misunderstandings.
No one wants to be misunderstood, so take the time to be sure at the onset of a conversation that your friend or co-worker knows your meaning, not theirs. Also, just as the Bible verse above says, your conversations should always be full of grace. That means that don’t jump down someone’s throat during a conversation. Let them finish their train of thought and then you will know how to answer them.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.