We have all participated in visual experiments where we were asked to review a graphic design to see what we see. After self-discovery, we were offered a different perspective of what was drawn. With the new input or understanding, we usually see what we did not visualize before, frequently unable to see what we originally saw.
I want to suggest a similar experiment using written words. Read the following, stop, then develop what you think it means before reading on.
“We got married for better or worse; I got better; she got worse!”
I read this bumper sticker yesterday and thought the following while reading it.
These are typical wedding vows where the intent suggests we stand by your partner through thick and thin. The “I got better” to me meant; I was the lucky one in my marriage; I was the one who was the beneficiary of the greater partner. Without my wife, I truly would be nothing. The “she got worse” is exactly that. My wife got the short end of the relationship. While striving to improve, I continually reach out and grab onto her coattails.
This was my world this morning and my understanding after reading this simple phrase on my way to work. Later, I contemplated my blessings in life, including having met my wife and having her at my side. I decided to post this bumper sticker on Facebook, adding on the end: My life, exactly!
Almost instantly, my objective of complimenting my wife changed while others read this post to suggest the following. The “I got better” was understood to say over the years, I personally improved. With the “she got worse” suggested, my wife was of inferior quality over time.
Holy Cow!!! As I read what I posted, I thought I could see how they could read it that way. Now embarrassed and feeling bad that my intentions were 180 degrees from what I meant, I explained what I thought so that others could see my view with a different observation.
What did you think as you read the bumper sticker quote? If you had a different understanding, can you see my perspective? If you thought as I did, can you see the other point of view? These are only two interpretations I know of; are there others we are all missing?
This experience hit home as we live in a world where more and more we communicate through emails, texts, posts, tweets, etc. The written word and our intentions are so often misunderstood. Take from this lesson that simple things or pure rationale so often can be thrown out. What may be black and white to us, perhaps is white and black or all shades of gray to the reader.
When you have something significant to say or a message that carries emotion, if at all possible, communicate in person. When we are eye to eye, the clarity of our statements is much easier to sense. The next best thing to face to face would be over the phone.
Know and understand how easy it is for those who read what we write to receive the wrong message. I learned my lesson and am hoping to improve.