The WHO, and Not the WHAT

“Always remember WHO is saying them rather than WHAT is said!”

~a text from TL

This was my lesson last week.  
That – and read for details….but more of that later. 
Let me give the backstory.  We had been texting back and forth when he responded to something I had said in a way that gave me pause.  Was he joking? Was he serious? I didn’t know, so I chose not to reply.
A few minutes later he followed it up with something I reacted to as I was reading it doing two things – one misreading it and two responding in a way that reinforced how much I had misread it.  
After it became abundantly clear that he and I were on totally opposite ends of the book,  he called me silly, then said that quote at the top.  He would reinforce this message a few times as we were straightening everything out when I would clarify what I really meant (afraid he was reading it wrong) that he would never have taken what I wrote the way I feared because I was the one that wrote it. I wouldn’t deliberately be malicious or hurtful or insulting.  Knowing this little factoid meant he was not going to read what I was saying wrong.
Wow!
Let’s all think about this one for a moment – because he knows me and considers me a friend, he assumes….wait for it….the best.
For me what struck me most was the blind faith he put into it – and into, more specifically, me.  He had faith that I would never treat him badly on purpose.  That if something was said in a way that could go either way, that because it was sent by ME that it could only have been meant one way.  A good way.
The whole situation has given me pause, to be honest.  How it is so easy to get wrapped up in someone’s words as thoughts totally disconnected from that person.  Those words are owned by that person – that person that is typing them, saying them, texting them. You can’t (or shouldn’t) disconnect the words from the person saying them, and read them without that context.  You must have faith that the person is still good even if their words alone stung.  You must have the bravery to say and to hear that maybe everything was a misunderstanding. And you must have faith in that person that they would not do that on purpose.  You must be willing to do it especially if that has not happened before in that relationship. 
Now, if there is a whole history of that shit – and they are an emotional vampire, then the lost faith was well earned.  Take them as they come across. React as you see fit.  
What was funny to me in thinking about this was how many times I’ve stood on the sidelines and watch someone I know have their words misunderstood by people who assumed the worst about that person.  The entire time, I will think “Gee, if you really knew that person, you would know s/he would never mean it like that.” “Or it is too bad this is happening because their heart IS in the right place.”  I can see others do it, but clearly am unable to see myself doing it.  How cynical of me!
The moral of the story: Pay more attention to the person saying the words than the words that are being said.  They represent the true meaning more so than the words themselves.
Or simply put: If they have never said something like that before, then chances are very good that they are not saying it like that this time either.  

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Just me... says:

    I wonder if the ablity to see this when it happens to two other people and not see it when we’re one of the two is more usual than not.. Happens to me and The Agnostic more than I like… :-/

  2. I’ve had very similar conversations in the past. In general, unless i have good reason to think otherwise, I always assume that someone I’m interacting with electronically means whatever they say to be funny or playful or silly rather than hurtful or mean. Perhaps in part cause that’s what I want them to assume about me?

  3. Fusion says:

    This is the biggest problem with texting IMO, it’s hard to understand what the sender is really saying when it’s in black and white. Too much can be misinterpreted without hearing the inflection in their voice. My SO doesn’t like texting for this very reason, and I know from personal expierence in the past it causes problems when trying to maintain a long distance relationship as well.

  4. Maggie says:

    I like that sentiment.

  5. “What was funny to me in thinking about this was how many times I’ve stood on the sidelines and watch someone I know have their words misunderstood by people who assumed the worst about that person. The entire time, I will think “Gee, if you really knew that person, you would know s/he would never mean it like that.” “Or it is too bad this is happening because their heart IS in the right place.”

    And if more people remembered that, there would be a LOT less blog drama.

  6. DCHY says:

    Huh? Uh…um, wow! 😉 I loved how you put it – “putting the blind faith in me to never treat him badly” – because that’s me every time.

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