Round Research #4: How is misunderstanding produced and exerted?

Discussion focuses on:

How to avoid misunderstandings. To prevent misunderstanding happens, it needs both communicators and receivers make effort on it. But how?


  • Six ways to avoid misunderstanding: ①Make sure your written communications are clear. ②Evaluate the clarity of your oral communications. ③Write all things down and repeat them. ④Watch for potential misunderstandings. ⑤Confirm all details and put them in writing. ⑥Ask others to repeat what they heard. (1)
  • Halvorson says people don’t realize they are not coming across the way they think they are. (2)
  • “Chances are,” Halvorson writes, “how you look when you are slightly frustrated isn’t all that different from how you look when you are a little concerned, confused, disappointed, or nervous. Your ‘I’m kind of hurt by what you just said’ face probably looks an awful lot like your ‘I’m not at all hurt by what you just said’ face. And the majority of times that you’ve said to yourself, ‘I made my intentions clear,’ or ‘He knows what I meant,’ you didn’t and he doesn’t.” (2)
  • Accept that clichés like “You only get one chance to make a first impression” exist for a reason, and are depressingly accurate. (3)
  • “The very first thing the brain does when it's processing all this information about another person is to take as many shortcuts as possible,” she says. (4)
  • Question your assumptions. As humans, we’re very biased by our first impressions of people, says Halvorson, a phenomenon known as the primary effect. “Our brains are very reluctant to change an impression once it's formed,” she says. (4)
  • Don’t let power go to your head. 'You take some shortcuts and you're more likely to use stereotypes to understand people that are in a less powerful position, and you're more likely to get people wrong.' (4)
  • “We want to spend as much effort and energy trying to understand something as we have to, but not an ounce more,” Halvorson says. “We very unconsciously rely heavily on what we expect a person to be like…stereotypes, even ones you don't believe can influence how you see another person.” (5)
  • Show warmth, as well as competence. Remove ambiguity. Make others feel they’re on your team. (5)



To avoid misunderstandings, it needs efforts of both communicators and information receivers.

First of all, both sides should realize that misunderstandings may exist. When we are communicating or receiving information, we may ignore the other's needs for clarity because we are limited by our own experiences, impressions, or it might happen, for we do not understand each other's ideas.

On this basis, we are more likely to take the second type of cognitive approach, which is to make clear and be straightforward to express, or concentrate on listening to each other, but do not rely on intuition and defaulting into self-righteousness illusion.

Second, for the receivers, they need to be vigilant about the inherent impressions, as well as the possibility of lazy internal thinking ways, such as "just to respond but not to understand" listening. Try to be an active listener, understand each other's cognitive style and get along with the mode.

In addition, for those who communicate, if you want to reduce misunderstandings, the most practical way is to be a "good enough" signal generator. Try to express yourself clearly and straightforwardly, and confirm the misunderstanding with each other. Expressing your meaning accurately, rather than expecting others to read you from a few words.



  1. “Six Ways to Avoid Misunderstandings.” Img,
  2. Smith, Emily Esfahani. “Mixed Signals: Why People Misunderstand Each Other.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 23 Apr. 2015,
  3. Studios, Universal. “The 5-Step Approach to Not Being Misunderstood Anymore.” The Cut, 20 Apr. 2015,
  4. Clark, Dorie. “How To See People As They Really Are.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 27 Apr. 2015,
  5. Clark, Dorie. “What To Do When No One Understands You.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 1 June 2015,
Original Post

Hi, Charlotte,

Great post, I like how you discussed how does misunderstanding happen and how to avoid them. As you mentioned, communication is a great way of avoid misunderstanding. I totally agree with the point, and in addition, clarity and details are also important in communicating.  In your next round, maybe you can discuss more about some samples that happen in our daily life. Here are some links to help you:

Hi Charlotte,

Great research! This is a cool topic because sometimes small misunderstandings cause such large problems, even on a global scale. I like how you talked about how to avoid these misunderstandings. For your next round of research, you might want to look at how to solve problems that arise due to misunderstandings.

I found this website to have a lot of information on misunderstandings, and it that might help with your research:


Good luck!



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