Why can’t you understand my situation?

This seems to be a question that we all tend to ask from time to time.  We ask this question when we feel that we are trying really hard to communicate and the other person is clearly not seeing it from our perspective.

Here a story that illustrates a scenario where it could be us who cannot see the situation clearly as we are mired in it.

A co-worker of mine rushed into my office one afternoon and told me that he needed to get to Cleveland by 4 PM and if he did not get there on time, his boss would be really upset with him.

I asked him if he had enough gas in his car, to which he responded quickly, “I don’t have the time to deal with that, I think I should make it.”  With my past background in software, the operational definition of ‘should’ was ‘it might, but it probably won’t’.  So, I tried to convince him that he needed to make sure that he had enough gas to reach Cleveland.

He promptly got annoyed and snapped, “You don’t understand, I have to get to Cleveland by 4 or I will be in real trouble.”

There was no way I could make him understand that if he ran out of gas, he will not reach Cleveland and that his boss would still be upset with him.  The only thing he kept repeating was, “You don’t understand.”

Up Next: The Bird and the Fish Argument