In a previous post (this one here), I suggested — rather formally — that it is a mistake to try to interpret another person’s understanding of the world, her intentions, and her behaviors by simply assuming her understanding of the world, her intentions, and her behaviors are much like one’s own. People are different and, as a result, think and act differently.
It again seems to me a rather trite point to make, but I guarantee — I guarantee! — 99.99% of all people do not fully understand this point and / or do not normally act in accord with its implications. I, for one, often need to remind myself both of the point and of its implications — and I write about it!
At any rate, it occurred to me yesterday that there is a kind of corollary to this claim. It is this :
A person can’t control how another person will interpret his understanding of the world, his intentions, and his behavior.
In other words, even when a person is honest, clear, and direct, there is no manner, method, or style of communicating that can compel another person to understand what is communicated in a single specific sense. All that one can hope for is a charitable interpretation of what one communicates and even then how that interpretation falls out in actual practice will largely depend on the person doing the interpreting. After all, even a charitable reading of what a person says or does may not accord with what a person is intending to say and do.
Now I want to make it clear that I am not suggesting that it is impossible for people to understand each other. People can and do understand each other but my point is that a full and mutual understanding takes effort, diligence, and good will amongst all parties involved — it doesn’t “just happen”. Moreover, for most people who think “they just get each other”, I am prepared to speculate that these people are generally misunderstanding each other or generally not understanding each other at all.