It’s only a 15 minute drive from the ranch to our house. One day as the work day was drawing to a close I called JAM to let her know I would be home for supper (some folks call that dinner) and that I’d leave the ranch at 6:30. She admonished me to be on time this time because she had various dishes that needed to be coordinated as they came out of the oven or off the stove. I promised I would be on time. (Evidently I had developed some kind of reputation for being late for supper???)
Well, I was pretty darn proud of myself when I walked in the house at 6:45, the exact time that I promised to be home. That pride turned to confusion when I saw that JAM was steaming, but the food wasn’t. I asked her what was wrong and she said “you’re 15 minutes late!”. I quickly defended my arrival time by giving her a math lesson: leave at 6:30 + drive for 15 minutes = arrive at 6:45. So there!
May I just say that sarcasm + math lessons + an angry woman = about a week of the silent treatment. JAM’s understanding was that I would be home at 6:30, not that I would begin driving home at 6:30. Thus, the misunderstanding between us. Ugh!
What if we had used the second element of understanding? That second element is to clarify what has been said (or read or observed or seen). When I said I was going to leave for home at 6:30, what if JAM had immediately clarified what she had heard by saying “so you’ll be home at 6:30?”? I could have told her no, that I planned to leave at 6:30. What I had said could have been clarified. (NOTE: It’s not about one of us being right or wrong; it was about not actually understanding what we had agreed to.)
I have concluded the #1 issue I hear about in relationships (regardless of the setting…home or work) is unmet expectations. One person thought one thing and another person thought another thing. Deadlines, commitments, budgets, sales goals, priorities, etc…all lead to possible disappointments because someone’s expectations weren’t met. Why weren’t they? Most of the time it’s because there was not a clear understanding of what was expected.
This is getting a little lengthy so I’ll continue on this business of clarifying next time. Sorry for the verbosity.