W: Today’s Deb-Blog Has Been Brought to You by the Letter D for Did I Understand You? and the Letter W for What?
People say things – emphatic, unambiguous things – or so I think and I misunderstand. I take them at their word and then I am disappointed when they don’t keep their word. Is it me? These are cases where English should not be a barrier for either party, as it is our first language. It’s one of those things that happens to me far too often and for years, even though I think there is no ambiguity. Usually, if I question for clarification, the other person snaps that I would question their word. And then they proceed to not keep their word! Try as I might, these misunderstandings keep happening to me.
There’s no ambiguity the other way around. I am a woman of my word. If I say I will be somewhere, I arrive no less than five minutes early because I respect people’s time. If I say I will do something within the context of a conversation, you may error on the side of receiving more and sooner and better. For example. this is my second to the last of my 26 blogs I have composed that I promised to post through April for the #AtoZBlogChallenge and it is April 13th as I write it. I keep my word. If I have a work deadline, I meet it. And in the extremely rare instance when I can’t be there on time or provide what I have promised, I will admit it right way, in advance of that promised time and take responsibility – even if it really is someone else’s fault, I will take responsibility for not anticipating that circumstance.
Language sure gives people wiggle room because they believe they aren’t lying. I am sure they would disagree that their word would be construed as a lie, but rather a misunderstanding. I had a friend promise me something professionally in two days and after three weeks never did fulfill his word. But it was a five word promise so how much clearer could it be? And you know, at the time I wanted to say more to clarify but if he could make that promise then I would, too. And I did – in two days. He had no explanation or sense of regret he didn’t keep his promise.
But this is an even better example and one that has all the aspects of my point. I was in a fairly new relationship and my guy asked me if he should buy a new vehicle. He was self-employed and, presumably, well off. He used his vehicle for work and needed to be of top quality. I asked him if he had the money. He said he did, to which I replied he should and it was a “no brainer.” But I added he should pay himself back within six or eight months. If I had the money, that is what I would do, replenish my savings. He seemed to agree with me and his question and answer led me to believe he thought like I did about finances. You know, by “Do you have the money?” I meant, “Do you now possess the cash to purchase this vehicle outright today?” By, “Pay yourself back in six of eight months,” I meant “Replenish your savings with the money spent on the vehicle within six to eight months.” I found out a few weeks later, he had no money at all! He had to finance the vehicle over seven years! What it the world did I fail to ask? How could there have been such a misunderstanding? Was it me or was he being deliberately ambiguous to do what he wanted?” I mean, he could do whatever he wanted, anyway. Why make me complicit? I would have advised the absolute opposite had I known his actual answer to, “Do you have the money?” was, “No, I even have to finance it over seven years after I sell my current vehicle.”
This plight goes hand in hand with my being ignored, as I wrote a couple weeks ago. (See https://debrastrege.com/2016/04/11/being-ignored-and-why-ignoring-important-issues-is-impossible-atozchallenge/) I actually had two different people tell me on separate occasions they’d call Tuesday. That was in the 90s. It never occurred to me to ask which Tuesday and which decade. And reading the numerous responses I got from that post, I found that situation is more common than I thought and many think I have an inordinate amount of disappointing people in my life. That may be the case so admitting I have this problem is the first step, right?
Here’s another great example most of you will be familiar: those TV judge shows when someone loans a friend money and they end up in court because the borrower said he’d pay him back when he “fill in the blank,” and the loaner believed the actual words, “A hundred a week when I start my new job,” or “Fifty a month for a year, etc.” Things that shouldn’t be ambiguous end up in court. It’s a whole industry with these shows. So I don’t know how one can avoid it completely. It sure would save a lot of aggravation.