I've spent many years gauging my interactions with other people, and a commonly reoccurring theme is the other person already has presumed what I'm saying or going to say, or has drawn up some imaginary alternate scenario that doesn't jive, and isn't listening to the actual contents of my words.
Things I've tried
The frequency suggests the problem is on my end, but I've tried various methods to rectify this to no avail. So far I've tried and failed with:
- Emphasising key details that are different; they continue to talk about their own imaginary version.
- Asking if they understand what I've said; which the classic line is 'yes'.
- Asking a follow-up question to test; amazingly they parrot back exactly what I've said, but they ignore the actual content of what was said.
- Simplifying statements; I rarely use 'technobabble'. The shorter the statement, the more likely I am to be interrupted with their own assumption.
None of these have worked.
Some examples, if ironically what I'm saying here isn't understood. Note that context, person, etc is irrelevant; I've had it happen a wide variety of situations.
Me: 'the white kettle is a lower wattage than the current one'
Family member: 'the new one? We should probably use it.'
Me: 'I don't know if it's new, but it is the white kettle on top of the fridge.'
[Family member uses the 'new kettle' which is stainless steel grey and wasn't on top of the fridge. I didn't know what it looked like.]
Me (confused): 'Why do you have a stainless steel kettle?' [I check the wattage, find it's the same as the old one; similar model.]
Family member (still acting on their imaginary dialogue of what I said): 'You said the newer one was a lower wattage, didn't you?'
Me (internally facepalming): 'I said the white kettle was lower.'
Me: 'Do we have the docume...'
Manager (interrupting): 'Look, there's no point attacking [X] department because...'
Me: 'No, I'm not talking about attacking [X] department, I wanted to ask do we have any of the documents by the p...'
Manager (interrupting, still going on about 'attacking [X] department'): 'There's no point arguing with them about it!'
Me (trying to ignore derailment): '...Do we have any of the documents by the pharmacy signe...'
Manager (still going off on his imaginary tangent of me 'attacking' a department): 'Look, we can argue with them until we're blue in the face.'
Me (frustrated): 'I just wanted to confirm we've got this [dodgy development thing] signed off by the appropriate people' (IE senior management)
Manager: 'We don't worry about that. That's not our problem.' (this is despite the fact said manager encourages the sign-off on development processes and it is our problem.)
Me (frustrated): 'But do we have some sort of documentation of orders from somebody above us telling us to do that?'
Manager: 'Like I said, not our problem.' (Even though, clearly, it is.)
I find it incredibly frustrating to have to constantly restate myself, have to re-explain points, and I get blamed for being irritable (and seen as anti-social) as a result. These are just two out of a sea of many examples. I find it occurs in the medium of written statements too.
How do I deal with people who aren't listening to what I'm actually saying? How do I get them to take onboard the content of what I'm saying?