We all like to be understood. We all strive to express ourselves & be understood.
The weird minority view is "I like to be misunderstood."
I confess I'm the kind of guy who welcomes misunderstandings. I wasn't always like that (I suppose) but experience has learnt me a few lessons.
Like the one I learned while I was running a training course for The National Trust in England, Wales & Northern Ireland.
Years ago, my job was to train people on how to manage employees well. I ran a 3-day course called "Performance Management". This particular occasion, the eight people on the course included four directors - everyone on the course was very senior & very preoccupied with big issues.
After about 90 minutes on the morning of day one, we took a coffee break (some went off to phone offices, others to chat, others to grab fresh air.)
One director took me aside, discretely & politely.
"You know Paul you've sworn 4 times in the first hour."
He had my total attention - I was completely taken aback.
"Four times you've used words that I find offensive."
"Oh my goodness [I didn't say 'oh my God'] Robin - I had no idea."
You see, he was offended by expressions I used to grab people's attention. I'd used dramatic language, deliberately, to get people to focus on the performance management agenda & their own skills. I'd been provocative - he'd been offended.
And we were going to spend three days working closely together. This guy was leader of a Region - his impression of the work mattered a lot.
We had a huge misunderstanding.
I had no idea he was the kind of person he was. Now I knew a whole lot more. It was a great moment. He could have said nothing, could have let me off offending him daily. Then he might not have supported the future work I was going to do in his Region.
It was the making of our relationship. From then on, I was able to take into account the fact that he was in the room whenever I wanted to be dramatic.
There are plenty of ways to capture the attention of people
- you don't have to use the "F" word.
[I like 'fantastic', 'fart', 'fast', 'friendly', 'fierce', 'feckin', 'freak' - for starters.]
I upset someone this week
when I wrote "Shit". Another misunderstanding - I didn't understand he'd was mad keen to steer people away from "shit" - he wants people to see human excrement as a resource we can recycle for good. He didn't understand I wanted to give people a jolt - I wanted people to pause & read what I'd written.
Our misunderstanding was great. We are the better for having it.
Your job today is complex:
this is the kind of exercise I give people on workshops:
1. Look at the last 50 communications you've made online.
2. How many disagreements have you expressed?
3. How many clashes have your had with others?
4. How many misunderstandings have your uncovered?
5. Look at the last 50 communications your competitor has made on Twitter & Facebook
6. Compare & contrast the extent to which you are both generating misunderstandings.
7. What's your style? Fit in or stand out?
PS - names used here may be changed to protect the identity of people who'd be offended.