I want you to play a little imagination game with me. Try to picture the following in your mind:
You’re having a conversation about cooking, and at some point you start explaining to somebody how to cook something. You’re giving a recipe, basically. You say something like “Put two cups of flour in a large bowl. Add half a cup of sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix that together. Then add two eggs and a quarter cup of water.” And so on.
The weird thing is that the person starts arguing with you and telling you your directions are complete nonsense. Nonsense? What did you say wrong? You’re pretty sure you’re being clear. So you ask questions back, but at this point they’re mad at you for being a jerk — and now you’re completely lost. What’s going on here??? The conversation wasn’t even contentious, and all of a sudden they’re fighting you — and you don’t even quite grasp what they think you’re disagreeing on.
So after some heated back and forth, you discover that somehow they aren’t hearing the words coming out of your mouth. What they hear is more like:
“Put two cups of food in a large bowl. Add half a cup of food and a teaspoon of food. Mix that together. Then add two foods and a quarter cup of food.”
Now you’re getting mad at them because they’re just not listening to you. They’re not even trying — so eager to argue that they’re making a fight out of nothing. You’re using plain language. The words make sense. They’re the right words, in the right order, but somehow the other person just isn’t connecting to the meaning. It’s as though they’re glossing over the details and hearing only the broadest sense of the words, or sometimes not even the proper meaning — broad or not. And they’re irritated at you for this!
I have these conversations a lot. Memorial Day weekend I spent time with my family and got into at least two of these arguments. Sometimes it’s an effort for me to convince myself that, No, they really don’t understand. They’re not being obtuse on purpose, and yes they really do think that I’m being unreasonable. But Heaven F—— Forbid it be suggested that there are different levels of intellect. Obviously I’m the one with a problem — it must be, because they outnumber me.