Misunderstanding and disputes often occur simply because of miscommunication
Most people tend to be open and straightforward in their conversation.Take what they say at face value. There is really no need to read anything into what people say. Don't look for ulterior meanings or hidden motives. It only complicates communication.
To always analyze what people say spoils the spontaneity of the interaction. It is better to have a fun and warm attitude and just enjoy being with them.
However, there are times when conversing with others, we may notice miscues that reveal the disparity of what a person is saying to what they actually mean or feel. A Freudian slip of unconscious conflict and wishes.
Inadvertently we ask ourselves "What do they really mean by what they are saying?" We get a feeling that they are not being totally honest with us.
“The reality of the other person lies not in what he reveals to you, but what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says, but rather to what he does not say.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
How often in our dealings with people, be they family, friends or co-workers do situations keep recurring that leave us angry, hurt, frustrated or just simply annoyed. We should have been smart enough or at least prudent and sensible in avoiding those circumstances that only led to the same awkwardness. Yet time and time again we get caught up in the same situation and we wonder "Why does this keep coming up?"
Misunderstanding and disputes often occur simply because of miscommunication. We failed to interpret the information correctly. But sometimes it is not our fault because the words spoken may not be what the person is really trying to convey.
On certain occasions we are so wrapped up in what we THINK we are doing or saying that we fail to grasp the unconscious motivation underlying our actions. Often, others are better able to read our actions and understand our true intention. Perhaps we "consciously" lie or deceive ourselves.
“Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thought that is forever flowing through one's head.” ~ Mark Twain
Psychology maintain that we have a conscious and an unconscious mind. People have emotional needs that have to be fulfilled; the need to feel secure and safe, to be able to connect and be intimate with others, to validate our purpose and goals in life, to be able to believe that we are in control of our lives.
When these primal emotional needs are not adequately met, then much of a person's behavior becomes an unconscious drive towards fulfilling those need. Unhealthy patterns of behavior keep repeating themselves for temporary gratification. In many instances the person is consciously unaware of these mental dispositions and is often baffled by their own actions.
Difficult, erratic or even strange behavior might be an attempt of the unconscious to communicate genuine feelings. Messages are often masked by what is transmitted consciously.
Why do people say one thing and do another
We may express certain point of view or course of action metaphorically rather than use common phrases. Metaphor languages are often use in our daily communications although we may not notice. They provide clues of what goes on inside a person's subconscious mind and the reason for their actions.
For instance, instead of saying " We are discussing the merits of...", the person says " We are arguing the merits of...". Discussion implies an exchange of views, a give and take. Argument on the other hand has a stronger connotation, a conceptual metaphor of "war" that must be won at all cost. It is contentious and combative.
Non verbal signs are another form of metaphor language. A person may verbally agree with what you are saying but cough intermittently, disrupting the flow of conversation. Perhaps they find what you say " Hard to swallow " and a cough might be the physical metaphor expression that they are trying to eject something they don't want inside them.
"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony" ~ Gandhi
If we wish to understand people and be more attune to their feelings, then we should try to find the incongruity of their words and actions, and learn why they do not correspond with each other. A lot of miscommunication could be avoided by going beyond the words and manner of speaking to the emotions behind them. Then there would be no need for the question "What do you mean what do I mean."
Of course, we could never fully know what a person is thinking so it is unwise to rush into judgement base ONLY upon slips of the tongue or minute facial and body expressions. Communication is not only about listening but understanding and having empathy for the other person.