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Ever Feel Like No One Understands You?


This morning, as I turned on Charlie Rose’s Morning News, Heidi Halvorson, from Columbia Business School, explained her new book, “No One Understands You and What to Do About It.”

Of course it happens to all of us. A co-worker may seem thoughtlessly rude.  A friend may sound uncaring and distant. A family member may seem irritable and demanding.   Friendships are strained, co-workers have trouble teaming up, and parents often struggle to read teenagers.

Can You Read People Easily?

For some it is easier. They have a gift for reading people, so they deftly step around the danger zones.  I have a friend like that, who teaches junior college.  By the second class in a new semester, he has each one of his students dialed in, as he moves ahead to connect with them. But for other people that I know, saying the wrong thing can practically be guaranteed.

Halvorson says you may feel no one understands you because you may not clearly see yourself.  If you get the same reaction over and over, you might want to find out why.  Communication can become tangled because our prejudices, biases and wishes, muddy the water. Also it becomes more complex because we present different faces to different audiences – our friends, family, and co-workers. She advises going slowly, being as fair as possible, and avoiding only seeing what we want to see. 

Upgrading Communication

Most of us communicate practically nonstop.  Many authors have pointed out how much communication is growing as we hop from person to person, cell to email to tweets, and just keep right on going.

Trying to pay attention to what kind of feedback you are getting can hone your skills.  Really making an effort to hear the other person can help. Try to listen to what is being said, and what may be left unsaid. Try to hear the tone and connect the facial expressions to the words.  Learning to spot good and bad communicators can help you shape your own approaches. 

Watch how good communicators reach out to their listeners and reel them in with a relaxed manner and ready smile.  Also watch for negatives, as others interrupt, often seem distracted, jump in and out of conversations or repeatedly try to dominate the exchange. Then try to look beneath the behavior and figure out if they are just nervous, bored, or unthinking.

For me, Halvorson’s advice to know who you and to take your time may be the most valuable points.  We may have a pre-cooked image of ourselves and be too quick to judge others. But the more we self correct the more we may be understood.


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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of US Department of Education

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