SPEAK UP: Are You Responsible for What You Say?

Have you ever been misunderstood? You may have been trying to communicate a certain idea but it was not perceived the way you originally intended. We came across an interesting quote stating, “I’m only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand”. What a riveting perspective. We believe our primary responsibility is to properly communicate our feelings, but is that where our duty stops? What do you think about this week’s quote? Do you believe you are ONLY responsible for communicating your feelings and NOT responsible for the receiver’s understanding of those feelings? Why or why not?

It depends on the situation. People understand things differently. Sometimes you have to go that extra mile so they do understand your feelings. But sometimes even when you do that, people take things how they want or the best way they know how. – Maricia (Style Reporter)
If you are communicating your feelings well, then they will probably be interpreted correctly and understood. I think if the person really cares they will do whatever they can to figure it out. But also, you should care enough about the both of you to make sure you are coming across clearly.... soo I think I'm split of this one. – Marianna (Sports Reporter)
I believe that both the receiver and the communicator are responsible for clear communication. Everyone has their own opinions and interpretations of other people's feelings. The person who is saying something is responsible for going out of his/her way to explain what his/her intention was. No one ever wants to come across the wrong way. In addition, it is also the receiver's responsibility to speak up about what his/her interpretation was, just to inform the speaker that this is what the audience got across from the way the message was being portrayed. – Veronica (Culture Reporter)
I honestly don't have a straight yes or no answer for this question. I believe that when you are presenting yourself to someone with the intentions of being understood you are responsible for making them aware of what you're saying. For example, if I ask my parents if I can stay out later than my curfew, I can't approach them with a faulty argument or with reasons they don't understand. Ultimately, I believe it depends on the context of the conversation and the situation. – Christa (Style Reporter)
You are responsible for both communicating your feelings to another person and making sure they understand. There’s no good in expressing your feelings to someone and them not having a clue as to where you are coming from. It's important that in your efforts to communicate how you feel, you get them to understand your insight on things and why you feel the way you feel. Not only does this bridge the gap of misunderstanding, but it also builds a closer bond of trust, honesty, and open communication between the individuals expressing their feelings. – Jazmin (Music Reporter)
The receiver's perception of what you are trying to communicate matters deeply. Everyday, someone is on the news or on the radio apologizing for making a statement that their audience deemed inappropriate. People’s opinions matter. If you are only communicating your feelings without taking into account how they might be received, you run the risk of being misunderstood even more. - Renee (Hair Reporter)

Nicole Johnson Roberson, LCSW is continuing her mission to provide ethical, creative, and clinically based therapeutic support to today’s youth. She delivers clinical direction through articles that address various mental health concerns and provides education and information about community resources. Nicole has also been involved with other aspects of TEEN DIARIES including the formation of Dear TD (formerly Dear Nicole) and Project Butterfly. Originally from the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, Nicole currently resides in Atlanta, GA and provides confidential, clinically sound and creative services to youth and adults alike by serving as the clinical director of a small medical solutions company and through her own private practice. The proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. Nicole is also a doctoral student at the Institute for Clinical Social Work in Chicago, Illinois.