In every conversation (oral but especially written), the person talking/writing is of course responsible for what they say, but the person listening/reading is equally responsible for what they interpret, often even more so as they bring their own emotions and/or biases into the dialogue once (or even before) the "message" has been expressed.
When you have "spoken" you can no longer control what happens to the words that have left your mouth/hand.
Sure, you should take extra care in forming and expressing those
words in an earnest attempt to prevent any potential misunderstanding,
and you should try hard to acknowledge your own preconceptions and
biases that could hurt or offend others, but those efforts can only go
so far. If the other person wants/expects to understand a certain
"something", they will always find a way to hear/read "it", regardless
of your most earnest intentions.
You can simply utter a single word "Yes" or "no" or "hi" or
"good-night", and people who have certain opinions or expectations from
you may instead choose to hear/read "fuck you", "I hate you", instead of
the more rationally intended message. If such simple words can be so
easily misconstrued against your intentions, imagine what harm may be
done in more complicated exchanges that require higher levels of
intellectual analysis and emotional interpretation. If you then factor
in any/all added cultural, gender, age, social (etc.) differences, the
ensuing mayhem could prove to be mind-boggling.
Once again, you may well be in the wrong as it may have been a poor
(or hasty) choice of words (or lack thereof), a stressful moment or
simply a bad mood on your part that has caused the original tension. If
that happens, you must be quick to address it and try to rectify it with
a sincere apology and a further explanation of your intended message.
We are all humans and we all make mistakes. Nobody's perfect after all,
but a bad decision or an unfortunate moment doesn't automatically turn
someone into a "villain".
However, those who choose to be offended or hurt by your words even
AFTER your apology or explanations have been repeatedly offered, they
can still choose to do so despite your previous clean track record and
your proven well-intended nature. They may or may not realise they are
doing it, but once that twisted interpretation has occurred, insisting
on your efforts to clear the air will most probably be fruitless, as the
other person has already made up their mind about what it is you
meant/insinuated, despite all objective and rational evidence to the
contrary. As a result, more often than not they will try to escalate
things and make a mountain out of a molehill.
I still don't understand why this occurs. Yes, it's true that all
people like to be right, and it may be difficult to take the time and
TRULY analyse your thoughts and actions and/or try and rectify the
situation but it IS possible, and any loss of dignity is small a price
to pay in order to preserve an amorous relationship, a professional
collaboration or a friendship at stake. If anything, there is MORE
dignity in admitting you're wrong and apologising than stubbornly
sticking to your "guns" against all rationality and objectivity, in my
Yet, some people never admit it when they're wrong and are too scared
to concede and apologise once they take the wrong turn, almost as if
their life depended on preserving their self-righteousness. What usually
follows is a warped, passive/aggressive behaviour that informs their
every contact with you, transforming every casual exchange into a
sickening "battle" that knows no limits and often finds no end.
When that happens and after you have already tried your very best to
make the other party understand you're not really an elephant, you may
find yourself constantly hitting your head against a wall made out of
their stubborn determination to refuse your appeasing explanations.
This is when it is often smart to withdraw and move on
There are more constructive things you can do with your head than
expecting to break down a wall. Walls don't usually come down despite
all the head-butting in the world.
Don't worry so much about this withdrawal, you will always find other
people more conducive to a loving relationship, to some complementing
flirtation, to a professional collaboration, to a humorous exchange, or
to some simple friendly bunter than a wall ever will be.
Not to mention all the headache you will be spared.