Did You Ever Feel Misunderstood at Work?

Unlike your best friends, and maybe some family members, colleagues at work may interpret the world and people in it, very differently from you.

Why do people misinterpret facial affect, behaviors or even words?

There are many reasons even a positive message can be misinterpreted, especially on the non-verbal level (which actually communicates the vast majority of our messages).

To some people:

  1. Serious = negative.
  2. Asking a question about a change for example = a challenge.
  3. Going deep into thought (I look like “Mr. Magoo” when I am thinking how to answer a  surveyor’s unexpected question like “what do you like about your job” in a positive way) = you don’t like your job.

How can you help avoid misinterpretations?

While no one can control a colleague’s behavior or perceptions, even fellow highly educated professionals like RNs, a great way to avoid misinterpreting others is to gently ask for clarification.  For example, just make the observation:  “you seem to be looking serious, what are your thoughts/feelings about . . .?”  That way you will be less likely to misunderstand the person.  When you catch a non-verbal cue such as what seems to be a disapproving look from another that indicates he/she might be misinterpreting you, try asking them the same question!

Although RNs (and other female professionals) may be highly educated and nurses especially are known for their empathy WE ARE ALL UNIQUE HUMAN BEINGS, WITH DIFFERENT LIFE EXPERIENCES, SO CLARIFICATION IS OFTEN NEEDED TO AVOID MISUNDERSTANDINGS!

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