Have you ever written something and had it misunderstood or misinterpreted?
Let us look at why this happens and how to handle it professionally.
People, strangers, judge us through our writings on the Internet. It is not uncommon for them to misinterpret what we are trying to say. As much as we might blame them and call them “Idiots” there are other factors to consider.
Text always appears cold, harsh, and indifferent. Anything written seems to come across much harsher than it is meant. Text can appear judgmental when it is not meant to be. Text can be softened by using different fonts, kept off a stark white background, or by adding lexicons like the smiley face to lighten the mood. Text is no replacement for the spoken word where emotions can be heard, and facial expressions can be read.
Sometimes people when reading something assume it is about them and become defensive rather than trying to learn anything from what is written. As such right from the start they put their own expectations on what is being said and easily go jumping to conclusions. This is not entirely their fault, it is the nature of the beast (so to speak) to protect ourselves.
Putting a reader on the denfense often happens because the writer did not create a warm opening paragraph. Also it could just be the reader was having a bad day.
Poor Communication on Part of the Author
As a writer you might think you are making your point clearly. You might think certain minute points (that would add clarity) are not needed and omit them, or because something you have as your common knowledge, you assume everyone has as their common knowledge. Despite the fact that it is called “Common Knowledge” it is really not always that common. For example if you grew up on a farm, surrounded by people who grew up on farms you know that hay is food for some livestock and straw is bedding. You might assume this is common knowledge, but the fact remains that most people do not know that it is straw they are sitting on when they go for “Hay Rides”.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturalmom/2892933186/ And just in case anyone is confused, those are not horses, they are mules.
As such it is up to a writer to think about how much knowledge their readership has, and without talking down to them, they need to communicate their points clearer, even if it makes things a bit longer to read.
Different Styles of Communication
Although I am communicating to you in English, your English and mine are going to be slightly different based on where we live and the common slang of the area. Although television has made some things familiar to all there was a time when the word “gay” meant on thing in one part of the world and a totally different thing elsewhere. Even today there are small changes in basic communication from area to area.
Sarcasm Does Not Work Well in Print
A person has to be a really good writer to convey sarcasm when writing. So few master it. As such it comes off as ignorance, arrogance, or meanness. A writer would do well to stay away from sarcasm if they are trying to convey a serious matter.
Unwilling to Listen
To a writers fault is their own unwillingness to listen to negative feedback. Rather than themselves becoming hostile at the people who leave comments showing they clearly misunderstood what the writer was trying to say, the writer should step back, and think about how they can clarify, or edit, their link and information. If a writer is really wanting to be properly understood, feed back is the only way they will know if they are not being understood.
It does hurt to be misunderstood. An article I wrote was misinterpreted and removed from another site because somebody thought it was an attack on Christianity, which I am adamant that it was not. I was not given an opportunity to clarify my points, which was unfortunate. It hurt not to be given that chance to make amends to people who may have felt offended, or confused. In retrospect perhaps I needed to edit the article more before publication. Or needed to use other examples than only ones from Christianity.