Has anyone ever misunderstood something you said? Have you ever mistaken someone else’s intentions? Why or how does this happen? Is it because you and I choose the meaning? We do. People choose the meaning of words usually based upon past experiences. It often has little or nothing to do with the present moment.
Let’s say a boss says a report needs to be rewritten. Before finishing the statement, an employee may start thinking:
“I can’t believe this. I put three full days into this already.”
“The boss always finds something wrong.”
“I’m sick of this. Maybe I should just quit.”
“I cannot afford to lose this job.”
Does the boss’ statement really mean any of those things? The truth may be that the investors now seek different information, or other reasons exist that have nothing to do with the employee or the employee’s performance. Even if it is about performance, this conversation is really about the performance on this one report in this instance unless folks make it mean something else.
Slow down. Take a breath. Tell you mind “stop.” Seek more information to understand. Act from a place of curiosity and ask the boss to explain further, find out what information needs to be included or removed, or clarify the goal. Make sure that the meaning you give the statement is really the meaning intended. You may be pleasantly surprised.