Have you ever been misunderstood? Even when you’ve worked hard to express yourself clearly and thoughtfully, and have no idea how or why the train derailed?
Well, I’ve been working with some folks lately who seem routinely to misunderstand what I’m saying and, ultimately, me. I left another gathering of the clan today, shaking my head in bafflement.
Not as frustrated as I have been in the past because this travel to a different planet seems now to be inherently part of being with these people. I just wish someone would tell me when we’ve achieved liftoff from planet Earth. It’s getting to be comical. Well, almost.
After slogging my way through a certain amount of frustration, disappointment and confusion, I’ve finally gotten myself to a more positive vantage point. Helping me realize how WONDROUS it is when we are, in fact, understood.
It’s actually pretty miraculous when completely separate, sentient beings with all of their own tics, projections, vocabulary, fears, dreams, relationship histories actually smile across the chasm and get what you’re saying or doing. Nod in recognition of you.
Yes! You get it. You get ME!
It’s magical partly because of all of the variables involved and partly because of how important it is to feel this connection. Yes, I’ve come to appreciate that much of the time, we’d just like to feel we’ve been heard. Understood.
When we have an argument, or we ask for something that’s denied us, we may not like an unfavorable outcome. But we actually accept it more readily if we believe that the other person listened and heard what we said. At least this is my experience.
This reminds me of that simple, potent scene in the film of “Enchanted April.” The sensitive heroine, Lottie, is convinced that a woman she barely knows is interested in escaping rainy, dreary, 1920s London and joining her in renting a villa, sans husbands, in sunny Italy for a month. Lottie’s bombastic husband or another character demands how she can know this. “I saw inside her,” the radiant Lottie replies as if stating the obvious.
I love that scene because Lottie’s conviction, which is ultimately confirmed, reflects a deep appreciation of the true spirit of this other person, a comparative stranger. She’s intuited or sensed enough to know what this other lady is made of. It’s touching: It’s an honest instance of someone earnestly trying to understand someone else, to have a connection.
As an artist, I’ve ridden this wild rollercoaster of communication time and again, either with my own work or with someone else’s. The sinking feeling when someone offers feedback that shows he didn’t get at all what I’m trying to evoke. Or the thrill of having someone appreciate what I was attempting to convey.
So, I’ll keep going to my communication-challenged meetings. I’ll remain alert and try to see when a disconnect happens. And try to make contact. I just wish Lottie could be there!