Did They Really Say That?

Image of a human ear receiving sound waves.

We hear a lot of things that weren’t actually said, all the time.

Margarita Diaz

Did They Say What We Think We Heard?

How often are you bothered by something somebody said?

People can and do make insensitive, annoying and even offensive comments.  And by people, I mean “we.”

Before we go to battle with ourselves or another over an offensive comment, let’s consider:

🧏🏻‍♀️ We hear a lot of things that weren’t actually said, all the time.

You see, we all have biases or predispositions that affect not just what we do, say and perceive about others, but also how we hear and perceive things about ourselves.

And often they operate in stealth mode; we don’t even realize we have them.

🧠 Thinking critically is knowing when to stop and question not just what we heard but also how we heard it.

How Do We Think Critically About What We Heard?

We can do this by asking ourselves:

❓Is there more than one way to interpret this comment?

❓What assumptions am I making about the person making the comment when I choose to interpret it this way?

❓What assumptions am I making about the person whom the comment is about (if it’s not about me)?

❓Could any of these assumptions be false?

❓What self-perceptions might I be holding when I choose this interpretation?

❓Could it be time to address or challenge these self-perceptions?

❓Is there an alternate, plausible interpretation of the comment that does not bother or offend?

In Closing

Our implicit biases, cultural backgrounds and personal histories affect not just what we do and say, but also what we hear.

They affect how WE perceive we are being perceived and treated by others, and how we perceive others are being perceived.

Once we know this, future communications stand a better shot at a fair chance.

🚫 But we don’t just stop at this awareness!

🛑 We stop to consider, question and evaluate what we heard before running 🏃🏻‍♀️ with our assumptions.

That way, we just might walk 🚶🏻‍♀️away a little less bothered, at least some of the time.

🖤 Margarita

🙋🏻‍♀️ Interested in applying critical thinking skills to improve your communications across differences and better your relationships in general?

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