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Old 01-10-2019, 06:57 AM
Location: A tropical island
4,542 posts, read 4,406,976 times
Reputation: 11162


OP, I think I know (and experience) exactly what you're talking about! Every now and then I'll just feel trapped by a brick wall between me and the other person that prevents understanding from crossing over. It's like this:
I say "a b c."
He says "No! NOT a b c!"
I explain further, then he says "Well it's a b c (duh)".
"That's why I said!"
"No, you said d e f."
"No, I said a b c."
"Well a b c is not true."
At which point I say there is apparently some barrier to understanding and I give up.

Another thing that can happen in some conversations (and I've been on both sides) stems from what is known as the "curse of knowledge." For example, a person is discussing "k l m," but for it to make any sense at all, one must thoroughly understand "a through j." "A through J" is so completely ingrained in the speaker's brain, that he doesn't realize most people know nothing to little about it. As an example, it would be like talking about why something fell over to a person who had zero knowledge of gravity, and the speaker OF COURSE assumed everyone knows all about gravity.

Last edited by kayanne; 01-10-2019 at 08:02 AM..
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Old 01-10-2019, 11:14 AM
Location: Haiku
3,885 posts, read 2,523,078 times
Reputation: 5680
People are funny and communication has got to be one of the most challenging things about being human. There are lots of ways that conversations go wrong and you can perhaps blame the other guy but we all have personal baggage that cause us to converse in certain ways that is not always compatible with the other guy.

Me, I get annoyed at poor listeners, who like to interrupt constantly, never letting me finish a sentence. But I have friends who love to talk that way to each other and I listen to them amazed that they actually seem to exchange ideas successfully. It drives me nuts but they love it.

These days I tend to shut my mouth if communication is not going so well with someone rather than trying to force the issue. I find it easier and less frustrating. But that only works in casual conversation. If you are unable to communicate with your kids, or co-workers about important things, then that is a problem, and you have to adapt. Luckily I am past all of that.
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Old 01-10-2019, 12:00 PM
3,119 posts, read 801,248 times
Reputation: 3635
Originally Posted by michael917 View Post
Do you ever experience what I like to think of as an "impossible conversation?" By this, I mean a situation where you are trying to explain a very basic, simple concept to someone and they just look at you like you have three heads and suggest that you are making absolutely no sense whatsoever. This may be accompanied by a raised voice.

I've gotten to a point where I know when to give it up, but I still have a hard time keeping the aggravation out of my voice as they fail to understand me. Anybody know people who do this? How do you usually deal with it?
Hard to tell if disinterest or lack of comprehension. Say it once and move on.
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Old 01-10-2019, 03:28 PM
1,829 posts, read 2,188,724 times
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Originally Posted by michael917 View Post
I totally understand that people think differently and typically try to choose my words based on who I'm talking to. If someone doesn't understand what I've said, that's perfectly fine. It's when they get aggravated and snippy over something trivial that I get annoyed. If you don't understand or care about the point I'm trying to make, why not say so politely and I'll move on.

I rarely raise my voice, unless the other person does so first, and usually then it's just to admit defeat.

Regarding the first story I told, as trivial as the situation was, it just baffles me that someone can have a new music service and not realize it. The first day after it changed, you would have had to consciously explore the new station lineup to find the channel you wanted. How do you manage that and still think nothing is different?

In the second story, we were in the correct lane all along. Changing lanes kept us on the right path, it simply wasn't necessary. I attempted to point this out but the other person was talking over me about how necessary it was that we did it.
Maybe you are arguing unnecessarily.
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Old 01-10-2019, 06:44 PM
520 posts, read 209,777 times
Reputation: 688
Originally Posted by hunterseat View Post
Your friends aren't very nice to you.
I thought you were going to say religion or politics.
Religion and politics are topics you expect people to have difficult conversations about. My initial question here was about conversations that should be quick and simple but quickly devolve due to a rapid breakdown in communication.

Also, the people I've been referring to are relatives, not friends. And I don't see them as being "not nice," rather easily frustrated and unable to hide it very well. I can be that way too, so it must be a family trait.

Originally Posted by kayanne View Post
Another thing that can happen in some conversations (and I've been on both sides) stems from what is known as the "curse of knowledge."
I like that term and can relate very easily. It can be very frustrating when you know something with absolute certainty and other people simply can't understand it, or refuse to accept it as the truth. The best thing is to let it go, but it's tough to do.

For example, I'm extremely knowledgeable about popular music, and have been at pub trivia events where I knew the answer with 100% certainty and got questioned repeatedly if I was sure, by people who seemed determined to guess something else. There's only so much you can do in a case like that. In the end, it's not worth arguing about so you let it be.
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