Unspoken Arguments


What percentage of conflict comes from somebody thinking something was implied?

I’m not going to pull a number out of my ass to make that seem informative and interesting (another post to come about that at some point in time). I don’t think the actual percentage can be measured to full accuracy, but in looking for this type of information a ballpark figure is best. Out of all the disagreements and fights, and even possibly international tensions, how many of them arise from something that was previously unspoken but assumed to be mutually understood?

The answer is probably most. Humans are passive-aggressive. We don’t want to say things out loud in case the other person gets offended. We’d rather play the victim later on when we feel disappointed, offended, or betrayed – that all preferred over nipping problems in the bud through clear communication.

We all have blind spots, and we take certain things for granted given our values and habits, the way we were raised. Thank-you cards are not always a given for everybody. Some families or entire cultures have embedded the values in their members to refuse other people’s money unless absolutely necessary. Some understandings of human interaction perceive rudeness to be any incident absent a “please” “sorry” or “thank you”, and others perceive silence to be okay, and rudeness only coming into the picture as “#&*@ your mother, you @*&#%!”

We have choices in how offended (or disappointed, or betrayed) we feel in these situations, but it takes a lot of time to lull the impulsive reaction into a calm and rational state of mind prepared for direct discussion with the other party involved. It would be a more effective path to spend some time – not before particular incidents but as a general training exercise in self-control – examining the things we assume to be common courtesy and questioning how common they really are. We can assume nothing, and explicitly cover everything, but nobody has mastered the art of doing so without offending somebody’s intelligence or sensibilities. We risk another person’s opinion of us, to save our opinion of them.

But caring about that opinion is one of the deeply embedded roots of this problem. Refer to paragraph #3: “We’d rather play the victim later”. Nobody can justifiably think less of us when we were wronged…or so we assume. I’m not falling for that any longer. This is what happens when toddlers throw their dramatic temper tantrums and succeed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s