We hear, but we don't listen. We don't absorb the points being made. What causes this breakdown in communication? It's simply because we have different backgrounds, experiences, and histories. The way we view the world and interpret events differs. These differences easily lead to clashes. Once tempers rise, we say what we choose instead of choosing what we say. These quarrels amplify the misunderstanding and further the separation. True, if we share the same ideas, there would be no disagreements, but what a dull world it would be!
You can talk directly to the person right away:
I’m sorry. Did I say / do something to upset you?
I didn’t mean to upset you.
I think we misunderstood each other.
In my culture it’s a little different.
I think there’s been a misunderstanding. Can you tell me if I
said something that upset you?
You can talk directly to the person a few days later
Do you have a few minutes to talk about what happened the
Can I talk to you about something? I’ve been wondering about
what happened a few days ago?
I don’t quite understand why there was a misunderstanding. Can
we talk about it?
You can explain the situation to a third person and ask for advice:
Something happened to me the other day that I don’t understand.
Maybe you can help me understand and tell me what you think I
Can I ask you about something that happened with an American? I
don’t know the culture well enough to understand.
Why do you think he said that?
What would you do in this situation?
What would most Americans do in this situation?