Assume that you’re going to be misunderstood

Assisi’s most famous prayer is as follows. 

Divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be understood, as to understand. 

Eight hundred years after its conception, his words are cornerstone of modern communication theory. 

What’s interesting is when you invert the prayer. Approaching the interpersonal experience from the other person’s perspective. 

This is a strategy our marriage counselor taught us. She said to enter into dialogue with each other under the assumption that you’re going to be misunderstood. 

It sounds like a punchline from a hacky comedian who stands on stage and complains about his wife for fifty minutes. 

But it’s actually a brilliant starting point in the communication process. Because it forces us to work backwards. To see the disastrous end before we open our mouths, and then tailor our language accordingly to avoid it. 

As a man, I’m not naturally skilled at communicating about relationships, because that would actually involve feelings, not just the passing along of information. But I know this about myself. And so, I try to take an extra second or two before responding to think about how I feel, not just what happened. 

Which is harder than it sounds, because men tend to act rather than reflect. It takes a concerted effort for us to express real emotions, not just produce functional solutions. 

But it’s worth it. Oh, divine master, grant that I may expect to be misunderstood.


Are you communicating before you need to? * * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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