Interpretations.

by Annaelle

It goes like this :

Le wild person says comment A.
I note that A implies B, and B is harmful or hateful or whatever.

Then Le wild person says that «I never said B – that’s your interpretation»
A.K.A : «You’re crazy, go away».

To be honest, I was quite surprised myself to realize that telling someone «this is your interpretation» actually is like calling them crazy. After all, every peaceful conflict resolution workshop I’ve ever attended taught to acknowledge the other party’s interpretation of things.

But, you see, and this is exactly the core of the matter – by saying «I never said B – that’s your interpretation», we do the exact opposite of acknowledging the other party’s interpretation. In fact, we are implicitely saying that the other party’s interpretation is merely an interpretation.
That is – that as an interpretation, it may or may not be valid. We can, however, safely assume that the person who says «that’s (just) your interpretation» believes that it’s not the right interpretation (for the same reason that people who say «evolution is (just) a theory» wouldn’t say so if they believed it was the right theory). After all, wouldn’t a person who acknowledge the validity of our interpretation, in a conflict, adopt new behaviours to account for this new data input ? A person who says «this is (just) your interpretation» defensively is not accounting for new data – they are actively disregarding the new data.
They are not saying «Oh! I didn’t mean B, but I can see how one can infer B from A that I did say – allow me to say what I want differently to avoid the implied commitment to B that I don’t want to say». No, what they are saying is «Stop talking about the bad implications of the things I say – I don’t want to be accountable for them.»

Their goal, is to say, in fact : «your interpretation isn’t worthy of consideration». Presumably, because «your interpretation is unreliable, flawed or disconnected from reality». Which is tantamount to calling someone crazy.

But, Annaelle … does that mean that we have to always be careful about what we say and reformulate everything that might possibly be interpreted in a harmful way ? Isn’t that a little extreme ?

I dunno. How extreme is it to wish not to hurt anyone – even at the personal cost of being accountable for what we say ?

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