It is no secret that humans alive today are the most documented generation in history. With so many ways to communicate, and access to news and goings on worldwide, we’re also one of the most global generations in history. As technology has evolved the methods we have for communicating, so needs to evolve how we communicate as well.
With the majority of communication now happening through reading and writing (an interesting shift), we’re seeing miscommunications and misunderstandings happen more than ever before. The language barriers are now replaced by a communication style barrier, of sorts. In short, it has never been easier to misunderstand what is being said to you.
Assume Positive Intent (API)
In any conversation, before responding, always assume positive intent, if the intention isn’t made clear. Of course, if the intention is clear, there’s no need to assume.
In every sentence in a conversation, there are actually 4 messages;
- The words being said
- The intent behind the words
- The words which were heard
- The intent which was assume behind the words
While a person may not always choose the clearest words to your understanding, their intention is something you can feel coming off of them. The same goes for how you receive what is being said. That is something entirely within your own sphere of influence.
The other people in the conversation
In addition to 4 messages in every sentence, there are actually 2 other people in your conversation; the perceived “you”, and the perceived “them”. When speaking with another person, you’re actually speaking primarily to how you perceive the other person (your experience of them) rather than to the actual individual. There is a whole universe inside of that other person which you have no knowledge of. The same goes for the other person. They’re actually speaking with their perception of you, having little to no idea what is actually happening in your life as a whole.
In a world where even the slightest misstep or word choice can get one “cancelled” (Gen-Z term for falling out of favor in the public opinion), it is important to always API -Assume Positive Intent- before forming an opinion or responding (if a response is even necessary at all).