I was recently involved in a misunderstanding. In a group setting I asked a question, then explained why I’d asked. This was perceived by the other person as a public correction and belittling. That was not my intention at all. I sensed no reaction from the others in the group indicating that they viewed the exchange in that way, either. Still, that other person was hurt.
I didn’t know about this misunderstanding until hours later. I was stunned. Looking back I believe there was a lot more involved in the person’s reaction than what happened at that exchange. I’ve played out the incident over and over in my head, and can’t see how things could have gone any differently. But, that’s not the point. That person’s perception and feelings are what’s important.
I’ve apologized. The apology was accepted. She knew that the hurt to her wasn’t intentional. Still, in the midst of our subsequent conversation my feelings were hurt. I was tired and caught completely off guard. Remember, the other person had had hours to think about things from her perspective. I had no idea.
Here’s the thing. I could now hold a grudge, nurse my hurt feelings, and allow this to cause a rift in our relationship. Or, I could realize there is some validity in the criticism that was made of me. I can use that to make myself more sensitive to others. I still feel misunderstood, but that’s okay. We’re all occasionally misunderstood. Part of me would like to make her see my side of things. I want to defend myself, make her see that her perception was wrong. But , what would that accomplish? Nothing.
Time and sensitivity will mend the minor nick in our relationship. I’ll be much more aware of the way I address her in the future, especially in public. I know I’ll be misunderstood again. I just hope that I’m always able to mend relationships when it happens.