How do you react when someone doesn’t “get it”? You know…your idea, your point, how they’ve hurt you etc. Does it:

A) Frustrate you? Does it feel isolating, perplexing, and downright rude? Do you filibuster your point in an attempt to win over the other side?

Or, does it:

B) Annoy you but you let it roll away? Maybe your inner dialogue goes something like: “meh, she just doesn’t get it” and the implied “and she never will” isn’t required.

I have been a camper in cabin A for most of my life. Particularly in my personal life, I very much dislike people not getting it. I generally used to try a step-wise approach starting with reasoned articulation which would beget cajoling which would beget influence which would beget whining (am ashamed to say) which would beget strong-arming acquiescence. Attractive, non? I do not recommend this approach to everyone (read: anyone). On the plus side, I would “win” because people would EVENTUALLY see the point I was trying desperately to make…they may not have LIKED my stance, but connection was made and comprehension achieved, albeit begrudgingly.

The down side of this approach is pretty obvious, isn’t it? It’s exhausting for both sides…and I come off looking like a pill. A sweaty, spent pill who browbeat her way to a flimsy and tenuous victory.

Part of the problem stemmed from the fact that my need to be understood did not distinguish its audience. It did not care if you “get” ME (or are one of my peeps) or if I get you. This is the big, fat, ugly flaw in the approach. It’s an expenditure of energy that may well not be requited. So I stopped (or *mostly* stopped) doing it.

Here’s what’s helped me and maybe you too. See if you can connect with why it’s so important to be understood. Yes, it must be a strong value of yours and one that should not be trampled on, and there is a way to save this for those who matter. Discriminate! Go ahead…do it...just this once! Save your gift of persuasion for the big battles and for those whose opinions really matter to you. Anyone else and you’re just contributing to the hot air. And Lord knows, there’s enough of that goin’ ‘round.

Campers from cabin B…your turn.

If you’re a “let’s just drop it” kind of person and you really CAN drop it, kudos to you. Seriously…that’s impressive. If, however, you are able to drop it externally but internally aren’t cool with it, there’s some work here. Assuming we’re talking about someone who generally gets you but doesn’t get IT, by dismissing them in this point, you’re missing out on the opportunity to share and grow closer to them. You’re also missing out on the chance to help them “get” it with others too. Connectivity and communion…lost. You may also be dipping your toes in the pool of martyrdom…walking away from what you may well REALLY want on account of righteousness. Oooooh, sting-y.


Resentful Writer: “My family doesn’t get my need for quiet time so I can write. So I don’t get to write…fine.”  (hint: it is soooo not fine, but you, gentle reader, knew that, didn’t you?)

Me: “Have you been clear about that request?”

RW: “I shouldn’t have to. They should know it’s important. They should know by now that if I don’t let my creative juices flow onto the page and keep them bottled up that they’ll just turn to vinegar and I’ll be just as bitter.”

Me: “Uh huh. Great metaphor…you really would do well to capture that stuff on paper. But they don’t get it, do they? So help them. What else can you try?”

So, off goes our RW and says something along these lines to the family: “I’m asking that you respect my need to write. It’s not just important to me, it’s essential. I need 45 minutes a day. Maybe more. You’ll know when I’m in the zone because the door to my office will be closed. Respect it please and I love you”.

Now they’re in. They “get it”. It’s clear and so’s the ask.

All that’s left in your office is you, a wide berth of respect, the clickety clack of the keys and Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 (or K’Naan if that’s your thing).

Whether you unrolled your sleeping bag in cabin A or B, what wants to be noticed here is really the who, what and why.  To wit: “She doesn’t get it” = where the "who" (she) is someone whose buy-in matters, "what" is the “getting” (meaning comprehending and not necessarily agreeing) and "why" is the importance of “it” as the real issue, with no other baggage tossed in the mix.

And from that place of getting "it", we can get each other and get what we want...clean and clear communication.


All campers from both cabins can come on out now and gather by the fire now to sing "kumbaya"'s safe because we all get it now.