2018 Are you sure that is what I said?

While watching the news I often run across the issue of what was said by a politician or a person of interest and what was heard. The politician will announce that he or she said one thing while the news and other interested parties will say they heard another thing. Many times, there is a debate about what was meant by what was said. This reminded me of a prior blog that I wrote that ended up in one of my books. So, I have decided to again present my thoughts on what was said.
I was happy that my wife was back at home after spending some time with her sick sister. And after she got home we sat down and talked awhile to catch up on what’s been happening. We try to do this on a regular basis, once a day. Usually during those conversations there is some sort of reference to a previous conversation. And I’m always amazed when I go to recall those conversations of what I thought I had said and find out that was not what my wife heard. In the beginning of our marriage when I thought I had said something and she recalled something different, there would be some sort of a debate about it. Not to be confused with an argument or a total disagreement. But as the years went on and on I found out that those debates were usually won by my wife. Why, because she’s a good debater? No, usually after doing some research I would find out that what I remembered was not necessarily what happened. I would like to say that this is a direct result of getting old. But since this has been going on for decades I think it has to do with my selective memory. There are so many things that have happened to me in my life, somehow, I choose only to remember selective events. There are also some occasions where I can’t believe that I would say such a thing to anyone. While working as a detective I would often record a conversation with a suspect. And many times, before the suspect would lawyer up, statements would be made. Usually, later in the legal process, the suspect would deny that he or she said certain things. In the days before everyone’s phone was either recording a video or voice, there were many court cases decided on who to believe. For those of you who have children, preteens and teens you probably often find that there is a dispute in what you or your child said, usually after something bad has happened. And if you had the misfortune of standing by what you thought you said only to have an uninterested third-party confirm that you did not say that. It is almost like you can’t believe it, are you sure that is what you said? I find often, that I’ve become very careful and calculating about making any statements. I’m sure that part of that comes from being a detective and remembering how some defense attorneys worked a statement I had made into something that was totally different. For those elected people who are constantly speaking to a group or commenting on television, they not only have to worry about what they said but how it was received. When I used to teach I would use the example of the word “dude” and how someone could use just that one word to communicate to others. It is not so much the word it is how you pronounce it, presented it and you express it. I’m sure the same thing has happened while I was making a statement. The way I pronounced it, presented it and especially my expressions resulted in the person I’m speaking to hearing something different than what I thought I said. Sometimes while communicating in a different culture or country a word or phrase that I would use at home, is received as something totally different to that culture.
I now have become accustomed to really thinking about what I said when someone else reminds me that I said something different. I’ve stopped making it a debate and taken some time to look at the possibilities of a miscommunication. Of course, there are times when I said stuff and I was just totally wrong. As much as I hate to think that I am wrong a lot, I must be open to that possibility. I’ve also started to repeat my statements and I asked the person I’m talking to verify the communication. I think there are many of you out there that have found yourself in the situation where you or the person you’re talking to has asked: are you sure you said that? And probably as much is you want to always be right you find out that the communication you are trying to make failed. It really becomes involved if it’s about a personal issue. I think that married couples probably face this issue more than anyone else. Sometimes while you’re working you may run across they scenario where your boss, your coworker or your employee will dispute what you think you had told them. I remember that it got so bad while I was working I did everything with a follow-up e-mail. Even then there were times that my written communication was ill structured, and the question would arise: are you sure you said that?
I bring this thought out to remind myself to be open to the fact that I may not have said that. But I also put it out there as a thought for you, the reader, to think about. How critical is the statement that is in dispute? Most of the debates or arguments about what was said are about an unimportant aspect of your life. Here’s a good example:” you said you would take out the garbage today (answer) no I said I would take out the garbage and I said it today, but I didn’t mean today. How important is it what was said about taking out the garbage? It is a small thing and yet you would be surprised how aggravated and exaggerated the issue could get. Did you really say that? Well I think in this case it is the better part of valor to consider what you said and just take out the garbage.

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