What Do You Mean When You Say ……

A few days ago my partner asked me if I would be OK to talk to somebody else in our extended family who was worried about experiencing performance anxiety during an upcoming exam.  I said I was OK talking to them, and left it at that.  A couple of days later I was surprised when my partner asked if I had talked to the person yet; and she was disappointed when I told her I hadn’t.  What was going on here?  It might be obvious to you as you read this right now, but it wasn’t to us.

This would have been a great place to start an argument, a nice little merry-go-round of “you said/promised/agreed” and “no I didn’t, you didn’t ever ask me to ….” etc.  Fortunately we both kept our cool and realized there had been some kind of misunderstanding and after some discussion we figured out that when I said I was OK talking to the other person she thought I was agreeing to go ahead and do that, whereas I thought I was only saying I was OK to talk to them and that they would then approach me some time later.

I thought this was a great example of a miscommunication that could have been averted if I had thought to ask “What do you mean when you ask if I would be OK to…., are you asking if I will do it, or just checking how I feel about the possibility?”

I came across the video below recently and I think its a great little story of a couple sorting out a similar misunderstanding. What do you think? I’d really enjoy your thoughts on this.  please leave a comment.

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