Intentional Communication

Relationships give us happiness but also cause us great heartache. One of the keys to a great relationship is great communication, whether it is with your spouse, child, sibling, or friend. Unfortunately, communication is not always easy. This isn't because people are speaking a different language or their thoughts are not clear, it is because they have different underlying assumptions. These underlying assumptions come from one basic assumption which is that everybody thinks that everybody is like themselves. We see this in how people interact and understand other people.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," does not mean that we should do to other people exactly what we would do for ourselves. When it comes to communication we should try to communicate in the way that best suits the person we are trying to communicate with. The book, "The Five Love Languages," did a great job of showing that people learn and appreciate different communication methods, especially when it comes to something important like love. Unfortunately, many people seem to be more interested in people talking their love language instead of making an effort to talk in someone else's love language. 

The main problem in communicating with people who are different is that we assign the same intentions that we would have if we were in their shoes. This is often how people get into fights and become bitter. Let's say someone, named Particular, is putting on party and they take a long time to determine exactly who should be on the guest list. They spend hours pouring over the guest list until they are sure it is exactly who they want to invite. Let's say someone else, named Random, is putting on a party and they invite whoever comes to mind and whoever they run into before the party.  

Now, what would Particular think if she was not invited to Random's party? She would think that Random purposefully did not invite her. Why? Because she would never do something like that since she pays so much attention to detail. Instead of thinking that Random's intentions where hurtful she should most likely think that she was just forgetful.

But, what would Random think if she was not invited to Particular's party? She would think that Particular must have forgotten. Why? Because she herself has sometimes forgotten. Instead of thinking Particular was forgetful she should most likely think that she was being hurtful. 

Understanding people requires us to put ourselves in their shoes to understand what they really mean. Unfortunately, most people simply stop at feeling hurt and can't fathom why someone would behave differently than they would. The assumptions that Particular and Random hold are wildly different and not necessarily wrong, but they will never be able to communicate unless they stop projecting their intentions onto the other person. 

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