Sometimes I really dislike the fact that when it comes to words, I use them as precisely as possible. Both in speech and in my writing, I usually mean what I say in a very specific way and although in and of itself that may not seem like a bad thing, I usually find that most people take what I say in a broader sense and by doing so, they end up twisted my words into what they were never intended to be.

Even more concerning to me than that, however, is how I seem to have the opposite problem when it comes to the words that others say to me. I take their words literally while they actually use them very broadly. They will say things that they do not mean because they don't really even know the literal definition of the words stored in their own vocabularies.

They will say things like, "I apologize for the misunderstanding", when actually they mean, "Yeah, I screwed up. Sorry." When I hear the word "misunderstanding", I take it literally.. as if they are apologizing for something that I (or they) took the wrong way, rather than apologizing for a deliberate act of will that was in error or out of line. To someone like me, the difference between the word used and the intention of it's usage is a very big one.

So I'm left wondering. I wonder if the problem is one of intended duplicity or simply a case of ignorance on their part. Do they not know, or do they not care? Should I learn to speak more broadly or should they learn to speak more specifically?

Living inside my head for the past 33 years has been very complicated at times. The way I process information, the way I perceive the world around me, the way I relate to everything and the way I react to things is distinctly different from the status quo. It leaves me feeling always somewhat disconnected, yet intellectually stimulated by the people and events that enter my little world. I'm largely characterized by my propensity to drift off into long periods of quiet thought and meditation. While everyone is busy making themselves a player in life, I am more often found sitting alone in the bleachers, watching the game and taking mental notes.

I write to be heard, yes, but I also write to be understood. My writing is often the only real voice that I have because no matter what I say here, I can always rest assured that at least one of my readers will understand the meaning and impact of every single word I use; and that reader is me.

Words have power. Communication isn't only about words, but the words set the stage for expectations to be born and with expectations come responsibilities. People [I have found] do not wish to be held responsible for the consequences or ultimate outcomes of the words they so casually toss around. Therefore, they rarely ever feel the need to think before they open their "big mouths".

I'll explain.

When you say "I'm sorry", what do you really mean? Do you say it to relieve yourself of the burden of guilt so that you can be happy again, or do you say it to relieve the person you have offended of some of the pain your actions caused them so that they can be happy again? Think about that. If your motivation is a selfish one, then you are not actually sorry at all and your apology would be better kept to yourself. Until you are ready and willing to take responsibility for your actions and the harm they caused, your apology is meaningless aside from appeasing your own sense of guilt. And the only way to know for sure is to take a look in the mirror and be willing to see what is actually looking back at you.

Similarly, when you say "I love you", do you even know what that word means or [should] imply? Do you actually mean, "I like you a lot because you make me feel good." Love is all giving but lust is a black hole that sucks a person dry of their emotional well being and makes everything about you. Love says, "That hurt me deeply, but I will continue to treat you the way I believe is right and best, even though I don't feel like it anymore." Lust says, "If you love me, you will give me what I want, no matter how I treat you." The two are worlds apart and yet people use the word "love" deceptively millions of times a day without ever taking the time to realize their own duplicity.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and they that love it shall eat of the fruit thereof.” ~ Proverbs 18:21
In a world where people all too often use words to manipulate rather than to heal, the choice is not always an easy one.

But when in doubt.. choose life.
Intelligently Intelligently
31-35, F
7 Responses Apr 30, 2011

It is so much easier for typed words to be misunderstood. We dont get the nuance that is delivered with them in hearing them. Or even better when we have a person present to read body language as well. I guess thats why I dont belong in this group.. lol. Both body language and tone can say at least as much as the words used.<br />
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Another principle ive come across recently that is somewhat revolutionary to me, is to use less words. The theory is that we dim the power of each word we use by adding more and more. Each word we add "dilutes" the overall impact of the other words. It was a rather alien notion for me. However I often find myself skim reading longer pieces since and this makes me wonder if there is some truth to it. There's just so much out there to read and do. For this reason, I am starting to embrace this philosophy.<br />
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Anyhow this was a lovely thought provoking piece. Thank you for sharing :O)

Wow, we think in many of the same ways, that's amazing, I too often disect what people actually mean by what they say. I may just print out your story and hand it out to people when I meet them for the first time.

I'm a fairly genuine person in general, Nordstrom. I couldn't fake the funk if I tried to.. and I have tried just for the sake of keeping up appearances. But nope.. I'm me.<br />
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End of story. :)

Not always. I have tried to teach myself to listen to a person even if I don't like the way their words make me feel. I willfully choose to see past the emotion and allow my brain to look for truth in the words, despite the persons intentions.<br />
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An example:"You are such a jerk! I hate you!"<br />
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A typical response to that might be something along the lines of: "Look who's talking! You're not so great yourself!"<br />
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But I have learned to try to ask myself if what they're saying is actually TRUE. Was I being a jerk? Do they really hate me? If I was being a jerk, I would only reassure them of that fact by replying in like kind. If I wasn't being a jerk, I would still only reaffirm their words if I began to behave like one and hurl back insults. <br />
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Do they really hate me? Probably not. They just don't like something I've said or done. If both of us were to set aside our initial "feelings" on the matter, we might both be able to come to a peaceful conclusion about it. If we can't, it will only digress.. but I've found that if one person is willing to step outside of their own "side" and try to see what the other person is seeing, it helps them to respond without exacerbating the problem.<br />
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Communication is a two-way street, yes. But each person is responsible for their own part in it.

Certainly. Interpretation is another side of the story, but I'm more making reference to the person who's speaking rather than the one being spoken to. <br />
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I'm addressing our ability to express ourselves, not so much the ability of others to comprehend the "us" we are attempting to express. <br />
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When it comes to interpretation, people often filter what they hear (or read) through their feelings or insecurities rather than their logical mind. If I were to write a story about that, it would likely be far more in depth than this one.

Feel free, Myke. You know how to find me. :)

Hear, hear, Vanguard.