People Always Tell You

By Lindy Earl

          They say that there are no words more sad than “what might have been.” Follow these, in my opinion, with, “if I had only known.” Why don’t we know?

Sadly, sometimes it is because the person is deceptive and, basically, lying.  They put their best face forward to draw you in, and they can play the game for a while before you acknowledge and accept the truth.

In other cases, I believe that people tell us what they want us to know, but sometimes their message is cryptic, thus takes deciphering.

          For instance, if a woman is hanging around a guy, laughing at his jokes that aren’t that funny, smiling and giggling, then she’s telling him that she wants to be asked out.

          If your Significant Other is suddenly unavailable, or isn’t answering texts when they once answered immediately, then they are telling you that they are losing interest.

          I dislike these poor communication tactics, yet here they are.  The real challenge is that the message may change with the person or over time.

          Some people, me being one of them, tend to send messages intended as kindness as friendship, but can be, and have been, interpreted as, “Please ask me out.” It happened in high school, college, and continues today. One guy, a few years ago, told me about some of the messages I sent and why he understood them they way he did.  It was a huge education for me.  I had no idea that when I had a conversation with a single man at an networking event that he could read that as being interested in him socially, thus wanting to date him.  Wow. Mind blown. I thought it was a business conversation. (I still believe that for many it is.)

          So, why don’t we communicate more clearly instead of hiding behind words, playing games, and engaging in some dance?  One, fear of rejection. If the gentleman at the event had simply stated that he was interested, I could have kindly explained that I wasn’t dating at that time. It would have been less painful for both of us. But he chose to contact me the next day, supposedly about work, then got around to asking me out.  Oops!

          Why is it so hard to say what we mean and mean what we say?

          A friend contacted me earlier to say that their date for tonight is canceled. The reason given was illness, but my friend immediately thought that was untrue. He believed that the person had probably received a better offer.  I’m naive enough to believe that it was illness.

Whichever it was, why play a game and leave my friend guessing? If you change your mind about a date, first, please don’t wait until a few hours before said engagement.  That’s just rude and lacks manners. Second, if it truly is illness, then make it crystal clear that you are being truthful. If you changed your mind or got a better offer, then say so, nicely but candidly, so that the other person doesn’t wonder.

          I admit that I have been guilty of saying no so gently that once upon a time a boy asked me out three weeks in a row before he got the message. Yes, I was young and stupid, but that’s a poor excuse.

          Still, it is possible that the information is being conveyed, but maybe not verbally.  Psych classes told us that when a person stands with arms crossed that they are unreceptive to what you are saying. When my arms are crossed it usually means that I am cold. So, this is the challenge!  What message you send, and what message is received, can be lost in translation.

          Some messages, however, are there even if you don’t want to see them. When a boss asks an employee to do something, and the employee fails to comply, the message is that the boss is not respected.  Wow! Does it sound like a big jump? Maybe the employee was just on another job, or got sidetracked? Those are excuses.  A good employee will accomplish all their tasks unless they have a reason for not doing so. There is a problem when work is left unfinished.  Even if it isn’t a lack of respect, you need to learn what message a person is trying to send. Maybe they really are overworked. A good boss would want to know this so that they can remedy it.

          Like, in a relationship, people want to know the truth.  Yes, people communicate by acting or failing to act, responding or failing to respond, stating it verbally or sending cryptic messages.  The information is out there. In some situation, however, we might need to listen hard to really hear what is being said.

          Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.  Contact her at or find her on Face Book and join her support group: Single Again . . . From Devastation to Divorce.