Language is a funny thing, but for me it can also be incredibly confusing and annoying. I came from conservative upbringing, served in the military, went to college in the South, worked in the liberty movement in DC, and now live in Los Angeles, and all this has taught me that most people don’t listen and that even English speakers are often speaking a different language. When political debates unfold it seems incredibly rare that the two people debating even agree on definitions, but instead of clarifying language people scream past each other. Words like “coercion”, “legitimate”, “oppression”, “equality”, and “freedom” can mean very different things to different people depending on their background and experience.
Personal relationships do not always seem to add much relief to the confusion. When two people have even slightly different personalities or perceptions there can be a lot of confusion. I’ll give two recent examples from my life where my INTJ nature and confidence issues lead me to miss language cues that may have been obvious to someone with a different personality. First, when I asked my best friend what he was up to at night he said he was going to the movies and dinner with some mutual friends of ours. I assumed that if he wanted me to join then he would have explicitly invited me. He assumed that because we have known each other for over 20 years I would know that I am always welcome to hang out if I want.
The second situation was me overanalyzing what a word meant. A hot girl that I’ve talked to for a while and flirted with a bit called me “dude” in a text. I assumed I was being told that she saw me as only a friend and really didn’t think we had a connection beyond that. I asked her about it (which was out of character for me) and my assumption was wrong. I tend to be overly cautious with women because I fear making them uncomfortable, which makes communication very difficult. I basically can’t read implicit signs and fear making explicit comments.
I don’t really know where I was going with this. It was just on my mind and I think we could all benefit from clearly saying what we mean and make an effort to clarify terms when needed. In order to make ourselves, our relationships, and our world a better place I think we need to spend the time communicating clearly instead of assuming the other person knows what we mean.