Misunderstandings happen all the time.
Whether it’s a difference of opinion, misalignment of intention, or assumptions without really knowing the facts. At some point, everyone is faced with that phone call or conversation they have to deal with in order to clear up a sticky situation.
Hopefully, the person on the receiving end of your explanation is open to what you have to say, and gives you the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that’s the way it always happened? Unfortunately, it’s usually not the case. Often times, confrontational conversations involve misunderstood details, hurt feelings, and bruised egos. In this environment, even the most well thought out defense can go awry.
Let’s say you did something and were completely unaware that through your actions, someone you care about would get hurt. After the fact, you find out through the grapevine or directly from that person that they’re upset. They accuse you of knowingly doing something to hurt them. You’re taken by surprise and want to explain immediately what your true intention was. In a perfect world, they hear your reasons, accept your apology, and you’re relationship is immediately mended. But what if that isn’t how the conversation goes?
Quite a long time ago, I was in the midst of a situation where I needed to explain myself. Because of a decision I made, I hurt someone’s feelings. The problem was, this person didn’t know me well enough to know my true character. I called her right away to get everything out in the open. After explaining myself, she posed a difficult question.
“Why should I believe you?”
How do you answer when you know you are being honest? There’s really only one thing to say, and it’s much simpler than you’d think.
I said, “There’s nothing I can say to convince you to believe me. All I can do is tell you the truth. I hope you can see that I am being honest.”
Thankfully, she could tell that I was being real. Our conversation was calm and respectful, which is how confrontational conversations are dealt with best. Raising your voice and throwing accusations back and forth will get you nowhere.
Often times, before handling a situation where you need to explain yourself, it’s best to take some time to organize your thoughts. Do some soul searching and figure out what the truth really is. Maybe the fault is on you and you have to take ownership, perhaps it’s the other person, or maybe it’s both. Telling someone, “All I can do is tell you the truth,” only works if you truly are. If you care for and value each other, they’ll accept your truth eventually.
It doesn’t always happen right away either. Everyone’s timetable is different. Some people accept things quickly, others need some time, so you have to respect that person’s process and give them what they need. If you do have to wait for that person to come around, take comfort in knowing that YOU told the truth.