Posts tagged ‘miscommunication example’

Figuring Out the Real Meaning of Humane Society

One year as part of our homeschooling program we studied the American Revolution. Elizabeth was particularly interested in one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush, because he is an ancestor of ours.

Elizabeth learned that Rush is called the “Father of American Psychiatry” in part because he instituted many humane measures for people in mental institutions.

After seeing mental patients in appalling conditions [in chains and dungeons] in the Pennsylvania Hospital, Rush led a successful campaign in 1792 for the state to build a separate mental ward where the patients could be kept in more humane conditions.[15]

We had just moved to CO. We were during errands and both checking out the businesses that lined the I-25 Corridor. All of a sudden Elizabeth exclaimed, “That is such a weird place to have a mental Institution! It’s right there alongside the freeway in the middle of all those businesses.

I also thought that would be a strange place for a mental hospital and so looked to see where Elizabeth was pointing. I looked and looked but couldn’t see what she was talking about.

After a minute Elizabeth said, “Mom, can’t you see that brand new building with the bright blue sign? It clearly says Humane Society.”

I did some quick thinking and it dawned on me that Elizabeth thought the humane society was for mental patients. Some discussion between us soon cleared up the confusion we had about the definition of “Humane Society.”

Your Turn . . . Describe a time when you had a miscommunication about the meaning of words.

Related Posts . . .

  1. I’d Like to Buy a Word
  2. Rolls and Buns: A Communication Mishap
  3. Sometimes a Question is Not a Question

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Sometimes a Question is Not a Question

“You all right?”

Every new person that Josie, my English neighbour,  introduced me to asked me that question. Some asked with kindness, some with curiosity, and some with sternness.

At the end of the week, Josie invited my two children (4 and 5 years old) and me to come over for tea. “You all right?” she asked after opening the door to us.

“Josie,” I blurted out, “Why does everyone keep asking me if I am okay? Is it that obvious I’m miserable?”

The surprised look on Josie’s face showed me that I either said something wrong or that she misunderstood me.

“Oh, no, lovey! ‘You all right?’ is just something we say when greeting people. It’s not an invitation to talk about your feelings.

“Oh.” I mumbled as my face turned red. Not only had I let on how miserable I was feeling, I also misunderstood everyone’s intent.

Clearly this question provoked a very different metal image  for me than it did for the people in the British village of Levington. The meaning I attached to it was strongly influenced by my experiences in America. I am so glad that I talked to Josie so that my misunderstanding was cleared up.

We moved to England December 1988. The nearly five years we lived there are highlights in my life. But the first months were hard ones. We moved there in the winter (SAD kicked in), right before Christmas, away from my family, into a village (where it takes time, sometimes years, to get to know your neighbours). And since I didn’t work outside the home, I didn’t have a built-in social network. Thankfully Josie and her family (Robbie is her son) soon became family to us.

Related Posts . . . 
  1. Do You Have a Highlight in Your Life?
  2. Figuring Out the Real Meaning of Humane Society
  3. I’d Like to Buy a Word
  4. Rolls and Buns: A Communication Mishap
 

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