Misunderstandings and Misperceptions

I’m often appalled at how few people seem to understand that information about another person may have a very short shelf life, and may be distorted and exaggerated when it comes from other people.

Here’s why information which may have been gleaned from offhand remarks and incidents from long ago may be extremely distorted and exaggerated when it is unearthed and used to paint a picture of that person to another person:

  • The intended meaning of the remark or situation may be entirely different than what was concluded by the person who may be passing on the information.

  • The whole situation or remark may have been intentionally distorted or exagggerated by the person passing on the information. Anyone who admits to envious or malicious feelings toward a person or to strong disagreements with that person cannot be considered to be a reliable source about that person.

  • The situation may have changed substantially, even dramatically. A person may have been having a very temporary setback or hard time. So by the time the situation is passed on through the rumor mill it may have long since been resolved.

  • The person may have changed substantially or dramatically. This can happen over a short time or over a long time. That person may no longer believe or even remember what he or she said at another time, or that person may have actually made right that old quarrel or disagreement to the best of his or her ability. So those that unearth and pass on things that ‘he or she said to me’ may in fact be passing on things which are no longer true or relevant.

  • Talkative people often have a long memory for the negative things about other people, but rarely as long a memory for the positive things about someone else. A person who talks a great deal about someone who is absent is actually often disclosing a proud, self seeking, self glorifying and deceptive character in himself or herself — even if that person says everything with the air of the utmost confidence and affected sophistication.

People have often been wrong about me personally. Here are some of the things that have been said about me in the past which are totally untrue. I offer these simply to show how easily and terribly wrong people can be with things that they pass on about others with the air of the utmost confidence.

  • That I was married previously or even several times. Sorry, I’ve never been married.

  • That I’m a martial arts expert. No idea where that one came from.

  • That I’m from New York City, from a Jewish background. Sorry, I was born and raised in Ohio, and was raised in a liberal Protestant church.

  • That I spent some time in the military. Sorry, never drafted, never volunteered, never served.

  • That I have a Master’s degree in Greek. Sorry, my Bachelor’s is in Classics, and I’m not qualified to teach Greek or any other subject in an academic setting.

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