Why do people misunderstand each other sometimes?

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  • #1
Lisa!
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Why do people misunderstand each other sometimes? You're talking to a group of people and what you're saying isn't difficult or strange to understand, but some of them misunderstand you. I know it's inevitable sometimes, but it's really strange and funny sometimes.
I prefer not to give an example now because I don't want you just discuss my example!
 

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  • #2
Pengwuino
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Lisa! said:
Why do people misunderstand each other sometimes? You're talking to a group of people and what you're saying isn't difficult or strange to understand, but some of them misunderstand you. I know it's inevitable sometimes, but it's really strange and funny sometimes.
I prefer not to give an example now because I don't want you just discuss my example!

I don't think the economy of brazil is very vulnerable to peak oil prices and I'm not sure if you agree or not. Its hard to understand what you say.
 
  • #3
Lisa!
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Actually I never understand this guy!:biggrin: Don't you think that not understanding someone is better than misunderstanding him?:wink:
 
  • #4
loseyourname
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You do use the English language in a curious and unique way, Lisa. It's understandable if people misunderstand you, as it isn't always clear what you are trying to say.
 
  • #5
honestrosewater
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I've noticed a huge improvement in the clarity of Lisa!'s posts. If people can't understand you now, there's something wrong with Pengwuino. :biggrin:
 
  • #6
El Hombre Invisible
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honestrosewater said:
I've noticed a huge improvement in the clarity of Lisa!'s posts. If people can't understand you now, there's something wrong with Pengwuino. :biggrin:
That seems to fit my experience. I can never understand Lisa! and there is definitely something wrong with Pengwuino. :tongue2:
 
  • #7
heman
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Lisa! said:
Why do people misunderstand each other sometimes? You're talking to a group of people and what you're saying isn't difficult or strange to understand, but some of them misunderstand you. I know it's inevitable sometimes, but it's really strange and funny sometimes.
I prefer not to give an example now because I don't want you just discuss my example!

Okay i have an nice example which can be interpreted in atleast 10 ways,

Lisa,the door is open.
 
  • #8
SpaceTiger
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Lisa! said:
Why do people misunderstand each other sometimes? You're talking to a group of people and what you're saying isn't difficult or strange to understand, but some of them misunderstand you. I know it's inevitable sometimes, but it's really strange and funny sometimes.

In my experience, misunderstandings tend to come from either unusual ways of communicating or false expectations. For an example of the former, if you try to say

"I took my dog for a walk,"

few people are going to assume you said,

"I mistook my dog for a wok,"

even if it sounded exactly like the latter. That's because this is a "normal" sentence that people are familiar with. On the other hand, if you say,

"My dog led me from block to block in exercise together,"

the listener will have to do a lot more mental work to figure out what you meant. This is probably because, in our brain, sentences are not logically reinterpreted each time they're heard, but are to some extent matched with things we've already heard and understand -- past patterns with which we have an association.

So if you're having trouble with people misunderstanding you, it might be, as has already been suggested, that you're just speaking in an unusual way. Not that I'm a big fan of "normality", but it has its advantages. I know of at least one person in my life (Iranian, somewhat unfamiliar with the language) that has this very problem. It's not that he doesn't know a lot of English words, it's that he uses them in strange ways.

On the other hand, people sometimes get confused for a different reason -- false expectations. I think that the way we interpret people depends not just on the pattern of their speech, but on a whole truckload of other information ("impressions") that we've gathered about that person. Our interpretation will be some combination of what we actually heard and what we expected to hear. If people are consistently misunderstanding you about the same thing, then my advice would be just the opposite from the previous case. Communicate in a different way and force them to develop new mental patterns that will be consistent with what you're trying to say.
 
  • #9
Lisa!
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loseyourname said:
You do use the English language in a curious and unique way, Lisa. It's understandable if people misunderstand you, as it isn't always clear what you are trying to say.
Have I said why people misunderstand me? I'm talking about misunderstanding in general!
 
  • #10
Lisa!
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I just read all replies and I notice that you didn't understand what I was asking about. I'm talking about people who speak the same language in whole their lives(not for example En as a second language), but they still misunderstand each other! Perhaps the problem isn't even because of words. As I said you're talking to 5 people and 3 of them understand you well but the rest misunderstand you!

You always say if people misunderstand me ... and try to speak about my case!
 
  • #11
SpaceTiger
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Lisa! said:
You always say if people misunderstand me ... and try to speak about my case!

:rofl: :rofl:

I think we have both kinds of misunderstanding going on here.

Actually, Lisa, my post was just as applicable to native speakers as to non-natives, I just find that it's usually more of a problem for foreigners.
 
  • #12
Lisa!
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SpaceTiger said:
:rofl: :rofl:

I think we have both kinds of misunderstanding going on here.

Actually, Lisa, my post was just as applicable to native speakers as to non-natives, I just find that it's usually more of a problem for foreigners.

Sometimes other people make you to misunderstand someone! :grumpy: :devil: :rofl:
 
  • #13
SpaceTiger
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Lisa! said:
Sometimes other people make you to misunderstand someone! :grumpy: :devil: :rofl:

Good point, I hadn't considered "groupthink", but that can cause misunderstanding too. :wink:
 
  • #14
Daminc
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SpaceTiger's explanation covers a lot of ground and applies to most people (if not all).

I get misunderstood all the time it seems.

Mainly because the chain:

1) What I want to say
2) What I actually say
3) What the other person thinks I said
4) How the person interperates what he/she thinks I said

somehow muddles the original concept that I'm trying to portray.

Unless you get two people who are totally in sync with each other and who have the same experiences then there will usually be a degree of misunderstanding (unless there is a common frame of reference that they both agree on).
 
  • #15
LURCH
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I think there is tremendous value in missunderstanding. Although miscomunication usually just leads to conflict and hard feelings, it can be turned to our advantage, if we can resist the urge to take offense or become confrontational. By understanding the points ST just raised, you can see that the exact way in which a person missenterprts what you say can give you insight into the inner workings of that person's mind. It takes some work but, as with scientific investigation, it is when we focus on and investigate that which we do not understand that our understanding grows.

Of course, it can be directed the other way, as well. Some years ago, I completely mistook what an acquaintance of mine was trying to say to me. Rather than confronting the person, or withdrawing from them, I asked questions and got clarification. Through this I came to realize that what I thought she had said closely resembled something I expect people to say to me. It uncovered a particular insecurity of mine, and revealed to me certain things about myself.
 
  • #16
TheStatutoryApe
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Some people have certain psychological triggers that make them respond in certain ways to certain subjects. Such as some people are very defensive so if you were to give them some friendly constructive criticism they may feel like it is some sort of attack on them and get angry with you.
Some other people are very set in the manner in which they perceive things. When think of a particular topic or even just a particular word they have a very exact way in which they define these things and have trouble seeing them in other ways.
Sometimes people have both of these atributes and they will get angry and think you are calling them stupid by insisting that there are other ways to look at things and define them other than what they think.

Am I close to what you are talking about Lisa!? If not maybe you can give us an example and I'll promise not to pick apart your specific example. :smile:
 
  • #17
Pengwuino
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Plinko!
 
  • #18
Lisa!
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TheStatutoryApe said:
Am I close to what you are talking about Lisa!? If not maybe you can give us an example and I'll promise not to pick apart your specific example. :smile:
Yes, you are. Actually this discussion is goin on in a way I like. SpaceTiger, Damnic, LURCH and you have mentioned very good points. Thanks all of you. :smile:

Sometimes people misunderstand you because they expect to hear something else from you. For example a person with a low self-esteem can't believe someone would give him a compliment and think people's words are ironic!
 
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  • #19
Lisa!
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Daminc said:
Unless you get two people who are totally in sync with each other and who have the same experiences then there will usually be a degree of misunderstanding (unless there is a common frame of reference that they both agree on).
Very true! And you know soetimes people misunderstand each other because of what's happened in the past. For example it's difficult to believe 1 of your old enemies, is trying to help you.
 
  • #20
Daminc
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When I disagree with someone it is usually because I've thought long and hard about something and then drew my possible conclusions. If someone has come to a different conclusion I sometimes think that they obviously haven't thought things through in the degree that I have. This is obviously wrong and slightly egocentric. It may be that they have access to information that I'm not aware of or have more experience in different subjects so, instead of argueing I try to convert the disagreement to my advantage. For example:

One of the more useful responses I've used is "How did you come to that opinion?" or "I don't understand how you came to that conclusion could you please explain it to me."

This way you can perhaps learn something new or teach something new (or both).
 
  • #21
honestrosewater
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When people misunderstand me, I just assume it's because I'm a linguistic genius and they are merely language-trained apes. I find it's helpful to give them a banana to keep them from licking my head.
:tongue2:
:grumpy:
 
  • #22
honestrosewater
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Um, just to be clear, I was only kidding. :wink:
 
  • #23
Lisa!
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You were afraid that we misunderstoond you? :wink:
 
  • #24
honestrosewater
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Who did what? :confused: Look, bananas! (((((:wink:)))))
 
  • #25
Daminc
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I like bananas.

Give me a banana and I promise I will not lick your head.
 
  • #26
honestrosewater
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Daminc said:
I like bananas.

Give me a banana and I promise I will not lick your head.
Oh, sorry, there's been http://www.progressivereason.com/mt-static/images/monkey_banana.jpg. :frown: Good luck though!
 
Last edited:
  • #27
arildno
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I don't like bananas. Seriously, I don't.
 
  • #28
honestrosewater
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arildno said:
I don't like bananas. Seriously, I don't.
Jealous?
 
  • #29
arildno
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honestrosewater said:
Jealous?
Mm..no, I prefer cucumbers.
 
  • #30
Lisa!
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Are you trying to say Darwin's theory isn't true?:grumpy::devil:
 
  • #31
honestrosewater
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Lisa! said:
Are you trying to say Darwin's theory isn't true?:grumpy::devil:
I think he's saying that cucumbers are better recreational food. :biggrin:
There's another cause of misunderstanding: unclear pronoun reference. Though I'm not sure whether it counts as a lexical or structural ambiguity. :confused: Interesting.

I notice you have something of a crush on Darwin too. :wink: Interesting.
 
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  • #32
Daminc
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honestrosewater said:
Oh, sorry, there's been http://www.progressivereason.com/mt-static/images/monkey_banana.jpg. :frown: Good luck though!
So you were just teasing about the banana :frown:
That's just mean :cry:
 
  • #33
honestrosewater
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Daminc said:
So you were just teasing about the banana :frown:
That's just mean :cry:
Yes, I'm very sorry. But Charles wanted the banana, and I wasn't in any mood to argue with him. Maybe arildno has an extra cucumber for you. :biggrin:
 
  • #34
Lisa!
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honestrosewater said:
I think he's saying that cucumbers are better recreational food. :biggrin:
There's another cause of misunderstanding: unclear pronoun reference. Though I'm not sure whether it counts as a lexical or structural ambiguity. :confused: Interesting.

I notice you have something of a crush on Darwin too. :wink: Interesting.
He said he didn't like bananas at all! But he should like bananas like our relatives! :grumpy:
I have to admit I don't like bananas too. :blushing:
 
  • #35
honestrosewater
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Lisa! said:
He said he didn't like bananas at all! But he should like bananas like our relatives! :grumpy:
I have to admit I don't like bananas too. :blushing:
What's with you banana haters? Sure, bananas aren't as refreshing as oranges, as juicy as mangos, or as sexy as strawberries, but when you're in the mood for mush, there's nothing better! :!)
 

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