Misunderstanding is common when we speak freely without forethought. I am referring not just to what we say, but how we say it and to whom we say it to. We are taught to treat others as we wish to be treated, but in actuality, we must treat them the way they wish to be treated. In the global social paradigm we cannot assume that words, phrases or context will translate. We need to know what we are talking about well enough to re-form it to our audience.

In cross-cultural communications that is a constant challenge but also a gift. For in this instance, it is assumed that we are coming from two different perspectives. This provides an opportunity to question the meaning of something misunderstood, without offense. In fact it is a learning opportunity that can deepen a relationship by showing curiosity and willingness to learn. We need to take these opportunities even when they are not so obvious.  Our sub-cultures and stories can have as much or greater impact on how we send and receive communications.

In content of social tools, it is all too easy to respond shortly with anything from abbreviations to sharing links not followed thoroughly.  “LOL” is one of my favorite examples, as one must decipher the meaning from “laugh out loud” or “lots of love” or perhaps others.  Depending on your receiver and the context, it could be misinterpreted.  Often it is more complex and we do not take the time to decipher, and thereby lose both the message and occasionally discount the messenger.  Ask for clarification. Think before your react.  Use the 30 second rule to pause for reflection first.  Find your own clarity in the process.