Instead of automatically assuming the worst, ask Questions

Do you ever notice how little misunderstandings can turn into big issues when left unchecked?

A few weeks ago, our youngest invited me to go on a walk. I misunderstood his question (I know, how do you misunderstood “do you want to take a walk?”) and thought he wanted to go later, or he had changed his mind. So I didn’t say anything.

My husband was watching our exchange and wondered why I was ignoring our son. He piped up and offered to go for a walk with him instead. I then realized my mistake. I had misunderstood him. When I realized what had happened, I had two choices. I could have left things alone, let my husband and son go for the walk alone and they would have still wondered why I was mean and ignored his request. Or, I could explain that I wasn’t ignoring him and invite myself along on the walk and redeem the night. No hurt feelings and we could have a great night together.

I made the second choice. I explained that I didn’t understand his question, didn’t hear the other part of the request and could I come too? Our daughter decided to join us and we ended up having a great walk reconnecting with each other.

That small example showed me, though, the importance of making sure people understand our intentions. So many hurt feelings occur when people misunderstand. Either they don’t hear each other correctly, they assume the worst instead of the best, or something else entirely causes the misunderstanding.

I’m finding it’s so important to reach out and initiate a conversation if others won’t. Ask for clarification, assume the best of others, and repeat myself sometimes in case someone truly didn’t hear or was too distracted to pay attention.

Most of the time, that’s all it takes to clear up misunderstandings and end up having a great night. Sometimes? People are angry and more work needs to be done for restoration to occur in the relationship. Either way, though, most relationships are worth the extra time it takes to ask a few simple questions.

© Cheri Swalwell 2021

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