Some days it feels like being with people is a chore. It feels like nothing we do comes across or our point is missed. Nothing hits the mark. Sometimes that miscommunication goes on too long. We start to internalize and ask what we are doing wrong or what isn’t making sense. In those moments we almost lose a sense of identity and it’s hard to not take it personally. We feel like we’ve been a pretzel, bending and folding in every direction to make people understand. I’ve had many moments like that in my life and sometimes I wonder if we are simply communicating from two different levels. If we don’t understand each other because we aren’t ready to.
Truly all we want is to be heard and seen so when someone doesn’t seem to “get” what we are saying, we feel violated or disrespected. As I’m getting older, it seems like communication has degraded. We use emojis and symbols and use words that have multiple meanings and we remove all context for them. I mean, I guess communication has always been that way to some degree. But we don’t take the time to think out what we mean or even understand/process what we mean before spouting out nonsense. Plus we all have the expectation that people will understand us simply because we are talking. Not true. Most people have the attention span of a gnat these days and they use that to focus on themselves and what they have to say. We don’t respond, we try to get our point heard.
The truth is I reached a breaking point with communication the other day. Words are my life and I try my best to be as clear as possible, especially at work. I had a few weeks in a row where people just didn’t get it. I couldn’t tell if it was intentional or if they just had too much on their minds but I found myself thinking, “I’m so tired of having to clarify and adjust my speech and my train of thought and make people understand what I’m trying to say. I am so tired of the struggle to get my point across. I’m tired of having to go back and reexplain everything all the time, in new ways, in ways. I mean, my goal is to be clear and concise and to work with people, but I can’t deal with intentional misunderstanding, or reading so deeply into something that they miss the point of what I’m trying to do.” I fell into victim mode. My breaking point was actually when I was standing up to take the lead for a group project and my boss didn’t even acknowledge that I was making the effort.
Everyone operates from a different level of understanding based on their experiences. That I will always make allowances for, but if someone is intentionally misunderstanding or making life difficult, that is a different story. If we can meet at a certain level, that’s great, but for those who refuse, it can’t always be up to us to lift them up to where they need to be. And the bottom line is, I think if we are with the right people we don’t have to explain anything. If communication is that much of a struggle then it may be time to let go. It may be time to find the place where people DO get it. Not everyone is for us and not every environment is healthy for who we are. That is ok. Avoid the ones who make you feel alone when you’re screaming in a crowded room and focus on the ones who make you feel heard without a word. THAT’S where you belong.