What does the word misunderstood mean to you?
Does it mean that other people don’t try to see you for who you are? Or does it mean that you have trouble communicating and connecting with others?
In her book, “No One Understands You And What To Do About It,” Heidi Grant Halvorson explains the dynamics of being misunderstood and how to connect better with other people.
Why Are We So Hard To Understand?
Do you assume that other people see you objectively as you are?
Your assumption may be wrong.
Heidi Halvorson says that this assumption is very flawed.
There are two main reasons we are so hard to understand:
- No one is an open book
- Our actions are always subject to interpretation
For people to understand you with 100% accuracy, they would need to be able to look into your mind. Since that is impossible, you’ll always remain, at least somewhat, a mystery to everyone you interact with.
With that being said, Heidi says some people are able to express themselves in a way that helps others see them more accurately.
You can help others see you more accurately by:
- Making information available
- Making sure the information is relevant
- Hoping that the perceiver, or the person you are interacting with, pays attention to that information
- Hoping that the information is used correctly
But then, our actions will be a secondary aspect that is open to interpretation. The interpretation of our words and actions is out of our control.
Interpretations of your words and actions from different people can be very different and can be very different from how you see yourself.
How Ego Threats Work
The degree that a person’s ego, or self-esteem, is threatened is based on comparison. The impact of comparison lies in relevance and closeness. For example, the highest threat to someone’s ego would be a situation of high relevance and closeness to that individual (i.e., sibling rivalry in sports). Low relevance and low closeness would probably not create much of a threat to someone’s ego.
So, how can we avoid threatening someone else’s ego?
When dealing with someone else’s ego lens:
- Be modest
- Be affirming
- Be us, not them
How To Be Seen More Accurately
How many of us feel misunderstood? 🙋🏽♀️
If you’re anything like me, you would like to change that.
Here are some ideas on being seen more accurately:
- Present some attention-getting information that can’t be ignored. This overwhelming evidence will show the person(s) that they have misunderstood you.
- Make the person(s) want to correct their opinion of you by activating their goal of fairness. Everyone deserves a fair shot at being judged accurately.
- Create a state of interdependence. This won’t be easy in some situations, but if others depend on you for certain outcomes, it will help them to want to see you correctly.
Heidi also mentions that it’s important to frame your communications in a way that is persuasive to the kind of person you’re talking to. There are many different lenses that a person could be looking through when viewing the world. Remember to take this into account in all of your interactions.
Years ago, I considered myself to be a “loner.” But I came to understand that I just felt misunderstood by most people. With the help of “No One Understands You And What To Do About It,” among other books, my social interactions have been improved. It seems to create less stress when you have the feeling that people get you.
Thanks for reading, I hope this helps someone out there!
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