Monday, August 13, 2012

Misunderstandings


What do you do when people completely misunderstand what you’re saying?  I think this problem is a little more common on the internet where we don’t  have facial expressions and tone of voice to help. I once put a comment on a blog.  The next time I went to that blog, it was a week or so later, the person who responded to my comment congratulated me on my book deal.   

What???   

I mean, I’d love to be congratulated on a book deal.  I just think I should have one first.  I went back and read my comment and it was still the same thing I had typed.  I could almost, sorta, kinda, see where she had come up with the idea that I had a book deal.  

 My next question was what do I do?  She was a guest poster on a blog that has a ton of contributers so it wasn’t as if I was likely to run into her again.  But what if this was one of those things that came back to bite me at a really awkward time?  Of course it had been more than a week since the comment, maybe trying to fix it would bring more attention to it and make it worse, but I hated feeling like I was living a lie.  In the end I left it.  I think trying to fix it would have made more problems, or been completely pointless as so much time had passed. 


Sometimes I critique something and the person will come back with a comment and I realize they didn’t understand what I was trying to point out.  I usually try to clarify at that point, as I think Critiques are valuable and important enough to get right.


Have you ever had someone completely misunderstand your words?  And not in a snarky “I’m going to take everything the wrong way” way, I mean just not understood the nuances of your comment. What do you do about it? Especially on the internet where a single conversation can take days if not weeks.

33 comments:

  1. Unfortunately I had that happen on an agent's blog. I guess my comment sounded snarky, even though I didn't mean it that way. The agent responded with snark. Needless to say, my fragile feelings were hurt, and now I don't comment on agents' blogs anymore. :<

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    1. I'm so sorry that happened. I rarely comment on agents blogs for that reason and because then they might just realize what a dork I am and delete any future queries.

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    2. "...they might just realize what a dork I am and delete any future queries..." LOL!

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  2. This one sounds like it's going to bug you until you address it.

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  3. I recently had this happen with a friend who misunderstood some things I had said and thought I had poor intentions (I didn't and it shocked me that she thought I did) I'm glad she pointed it out to me and I was able to explain myself and we came to an understanding (I think, I hope). I always think it's best to clear the air and not let it fester.

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    1. I'm glad you were able to come to an understanding. It is best to be clear.

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  4. Any written thing can be tricky. I find myself thinking about this more and more as I've started an editing business--where people are PAYING me for feedback--and it adds to the pressure of making sure what I comment and write to them is understood in the manner, tone, and way I meant to say it. It's a tough thing. But when we're misunderstood, in any realm of our lives, I think it's important to clear things up.

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    1. I can see where that would put a bit more pressure on. But I guess as writers we need to learn to convey clarity and nuances. In all aspects of our life.

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  5. Being misunderstood is something I always worry about especially over the internet. I think it's best to clear things up when you can, even if a week has gone by. You could try sending this person a personal e-mail if you prefer. Most bloggers understand you can't always come back and check for replies right away. what I worry the most is my sarcasm. I can be a bit goofy/snarky with my sense of humor at times so I have to be careful with who I'm addressing. (:

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    1. Sarcasm can be difficult, if not impossible, on the internet. I don't use a lot of sarcasm but I can't tell you how many messages I've deleted before posting because I wasn't sure how they would come across.

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  6. I tend to be very direct in real life, so I hope I come across that way in the blogosphere as well. It's always good to address an issue if one comes up, even between you and another blogger. We all make mistakes, so I'm guessing that's what that comment was. (I hope it wasn't me! HA!)

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    1. No, it wasn't you :) It's someone I didn't know and haven't seen since. Which of course made me more scared of opening a dialogue since I tend to be rather reserved. I do think most people are very understanding though. Quite possibly they have been through something like this too.

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  7. I think it can't be helped. We can be as clear and concise as possible, yet still be misunderstood by somebody. That's human nature. We can't control how others perceive us. That includes how they decipher our words. Makes for a more interesting life. Sorta. Haha. Sara, you did the right thing not mentioning. Besides as time passed, it would have made things more complicated. Guess you'll just have to get a book deal. Soon. Today!

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    1. Misunderstandings happen in face to face conversations, there's no way to completely avoid them here in the internet. It does make for more learning experiences. I'll get a book deal, it might not be today though. :)

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  8. Great post, Sara. I, too, have been misunderstood - a few times on my blog. Once it was probably my fault, a few times I'm not sure how the person misunderstood me. However, none of the misunderstandings was about anything as important as a book deal. In each case, I sent the blogger a personal e-mail. I would definitely want another person to correct me if I was the one in confusion...including you. ^_^

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    1. Personal email is a good way to handle it. I've seen some pretty simple things get blown out of proportion on the web.

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  9. Oh great post! Anything that is written can be taken any way, depending on the person reading it. Emoticons help :)

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  10. Internet, emails and such all have the misunderstanding potential. I've had CP's misunderstand my comments and I'm glad when they come back and ask.

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    1. I am too. I'd much rather work it out then have it fester.

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  11. Sometimes I put little happy faces when I write something that I think might come off the wrong way if someone reads under a certain context, and me knowing it's not my intended context. Don't know if that makes sense... =D

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    1. I didn't use to like emoticons but I've come to learn they do help convey things we just can't in typing.

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  12. I can see how that would bother you, but at least it was positive. Maybe it will happen and then it will be true! In that writing book I recommended, one of the authors had a friend misunderstand something in a really bad way. Just shows how much we lose when we don't have all the nuances of body language.

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    1. So true. And I'm happy it was such a small misunderstanding considering some of the things I've encountered on the web.

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  13. This happens to me with Texting. Face to face is really the best form of communication. Unfortunately I think that happens less and less these days.

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    1. It is happening less and less, which is sad. People are loosing those skills.

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  14. I had this happen in a professional email with disastrous results for me. I explained that what I meant was not how she interpreted my words, but it did no good whatsoever. She nipped our beginning acquaintance before it ever had a chance to take root. Over the years I've come to realize that we were so different that any sort of professional relationship was likely doomed from the beginning, but it was a hard lesson.

    I think you did right by not adding to the confusion in the comment trail. If it ever comes up, you can explain it as a misunderstanding at that point.

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    1. Thanks, That's too bad about your email disaster. While it is a hard lesson I think it's an important one. We all need to learn to deal with people we have a hard time getting along with or who willfully misinterpret everything.

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  15. Yikes, Sara! I've not done that one, but my blunders are not pretty. I even got the name of a book wrong on the author's blog when I commented on how good it was. Once I realized I'd done it, I went back and deleted the comment. Color me red. ; )

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  16. I always feel so silly if I get a title or name wrong. But at least with writing I get a second chance to fix my comment or post. I feel sillier when people misunderstand me in real life...

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  17. I'm always scared stiff that I'm going to make a mistake and write something that gets taken the wrong way. So far I haven't made any major blunders yet thank goodness, but it's something I always try and think about when I say anything. Don't know how I'd handle it if I got things wrong though...

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