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Clarifying: Important?


Have you ever been misunderstood? Have you ever misunderstood someone else? If you have, then you understand the importance of asking clarifying questions.

My husband often reminds me of things and I appreciate that because I can be forgetful at times and, even if I already remembered what he’s reminding me of, I just thank him because I know he intends to be helpful. So I assumed that he would appreciate it when I reminded him of things. But that was not always the case.

For example, my husband and I once had our teeth whitened and we were supposed to do periodic follow ups at home. One night, I asked Tom if he’d like to do the teeth whitening and he said no. I wondered if he was annoyed with me, so I asked if he would prefer that I not mention it again and he said yes. I just said OK, but it would have been better if I’d asked why he didn’t want me to mention it again. Then I would have understood his reasons.

Sometimes people misunderstand our motive. In this case, I was simply trying to be helpful but Tom may have thought I was asking because I thought he was forgetful, or he may have simply decided he was no longer interested in doing the follow-ups.

Far too often, hurt feelings are the result of a misunderstanding, so it’s good to ask clarifying questions.

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