The Art of Miscommunication


Failure to Launch

It’s not so much an art form. Sometimes I feel like I make it that way though. Please tell me I am not the only one?

Communication is fascinating. It is how we translate the world we perceive around us to others. I heard somewhere that 85% of communication is non-verbal.  I also heard that 99% of statistics are made up… cough.  I noticed a lot of misfires er problems are started by communication, or the lack thereof. I had a little experience at work several weeks back that inspired this one.

The Scoop

I work with a cupcake. That is my internal nickname for her. She is a princess of sorts. I never quite know what to do or say around her in order not to provoke straight awkwardness. Even when I keep my head low, and just work. I sum it up as our personalities. We are like oil and vinegar. Sometimes when people fail to connect, it is failure on both ends. This is mine.

This wasn’t the first time I had covered her shift. She had asked me to cover for her because her husband was going to have surgery. This made me work a pretty long stretch without a break. I did it. Sometimes you don’t have enough notice to give. That is life. Just the way I see it. Sometimes it’s hard to put your game face on when someone you love is walking something out. I gave her a free pass.

On the day of “surgery” we had a meeting that was during my lunch break… go figure. She was there. I was a little surprised. She was in comfortable summer clothes. I asked her how the surgery went. She said there was no surgery. I bit down hard on my tongue. I chewed. I grimaced. I walked away for a moment, before the meeting started. My temperature shot through the roof. I was ANGRY. I thought this was a game to her. I figured she would have me cover a day like this, and work a long stretch.

“Oh Jesus, Don’t let me hurt her”


Claymation thought land was in full force. We were both in leotards and wrestling masks and I was sitting on top of her. She was screaming uncle. I let up. That was all.

I was so angry. I felt like she was playing games with me.

I WON’T BE PLAYED BY ANYONE. She left right after the meeting. I went home angry. I entertained anger for too long. I worked with her the next day. I decided to ask her what that was all about. I told her that I was under the impression that her husband was having surgery, and that is why I covered for her. I thought maybe it was a procedure. Maybe it was something minimal a doctor wanted to do early. Sheesh.

Her explanation was that she went to the pre-op appointment with him. She wanted to be there for him, to understand pre and post op care. I remember explicitly that she did not explain that to me beforehand. In a way, she didn’t have to explain all of the details to her business. If I am covering for her though, clarity on the situation would be nice. She said she probably explained it wrong and that she was sorry. So here is what I decided: It was over. I already covered for her. It was not the end of the world. Next time if need be, we both agreed to try to communicate better. I was annoyed, but her intentions could have been completely pure. I think her need was valid. I unfortunately, do not read her heart, even if I see her face or behavior. I don’t understand everything that is going on inside of her. She could have just been stressed out. That happens with life. That happens when someone you love has health issues. I was pretty sure that she was being honest, and it wasn’t some great, malicious conspiracy to have me cover one shift. Like I was a pawn for her amusement. You know, she was sitting at her castle cackling, because it would have been so devious to make me work one extra day? I had to let it go.


I think when we communicate with others, sometimes we just say things the best way that we know how to under our circumstances. Sometimes our intentions are good. For some reason or other they are lost in translation, and we end up hurting or embarrassing someone.

I have stuck my foot in my mouth before.

Tastes. So. Bad.


It is especially embarrassing when I have the utmost respect for a person, and maybe it was a faux pas due to cultural differences. Maybe we come from totally different worlds, yet live a few blocks away. Maybe in a split second I just say the wrong word. It’s amusing how something can be respectful from one angle, yet tasteless or confrontational from another. I have to admit I have hated the few times my intentions were awesome, but someone let me have it for being wrong. Like, I respected them and meant the absolute best, but for whatever reason unbeknownst to me at the time, there was a delivery failure. Sometimes our limited translations do not express our intent.

I think one thing that I find especially funny is when two people argue about a topic but it sounds like they are agreeing.

For instance:

Me: Chocolate is AWESOME!!!

Bob: There is NOTHING awesome about chocolate! It is Great, but not awesome!

Redfaced Me: It most certainly is full of awesome! Thank you!

Bob: There is nothing Awful about it! What is wrong with you?!?

We both have angry brows and stomp around and slam things.

I guess this is one more reason why I think patience and love are so great. I work on it. Not quite the expert yet.


4 responses to “The Art of Miscommunication

  1. Half the battle is knowing & working on it! ^5!!! I’ve always said, communication is KEY to any & ALL relationships! =)

  2. This post hits me right in the head (or heart, or both). I tend to speak literally and my ex-wife (we were married for 32 years) hears interpretively. The reverse is also true, she speaks interpretively and I hear literally. We both knew this after a couple years of marriage, but she refused to change and I don’t read minds 🙂 Needless to say, it was an interesting 32 years 🙂

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