Have you ever been misunderstood? Of course you have, we all have. When we are misunderstood, it doesn’t feel good. Our words can get twisted and people can take things the wrong way. When this happens we get a chance to respond. We have a choice: either we can become defensive or we can explain our side with grace.

The other day I was misunderstood: A woman emailed me about working with me. I explained that I was going on vacation and that if she requested to be alerted when I returned that I would do so. There is a form she needed to fill out. Well, when I returned she contacted me harshly saying she was going to work with someone else because I did not do what I said I was going to do. She thought I said I would contact her when I was home. I was very professional and explained about the form she needed to fill out. She argued with me saying that I do not put my business first. I explained what I actually said, and told her I am a woman of integrity and my word is my bond. She eventually, after several harsh emails, realized it was her wrongdoing and she apologized.

 During these back and forth emails, even though I handled it well, I was not very happy.
It is very frustrating to be misunderstood.
It hurts when someone puts words in my mouth.
It is distasteful when someone questions my character.
But, how I ultimately handle it, is my responsibility.

You see, even though someone can have the best ethics, when they are misunderstood and they have a finger pointing at them, it is easy to throw those great character traits out the window and defend in an ugly way. I can honestly say that I was getting a little hot under my skin. When you have done no wrong, yet someone jumps to the wrong conclusion that you have done something questionable…that hurts.

It is hard, when under that kind of pressure, to stay true to your values when defending your character. I wanted to shout to her that she was wrong. I wanted to fight back as my adrenaline was pumping fiercely through my veins. But that would mean that I was stooping to her level, that I was compromising my values, and that I was not being true to who I am.

It was a great practice in maintaining my composure while being attacked, and I really thank her for that. After she apologized, I told her that I truly forgave her. It was a valuable experience for me. I was grateful for the experience. Have you been misunderstood? How have you handled it? Did the person get the best of you, or did you rise above and show self control and self respect?

Take Action: This week and moving forward, let’s take a deep breath and be true to our values when we are misunderstood. Let’s defend our position with grace instead of becoming defensive and ugly.

Because Together is Better,


  1. Thank you for sharing this story today – it is a powerful moment when we realize that we get to choose how to respond and that we don’t have to respond from a place of fear or anger but we can instead choose to respond with care and grace. I had a conversation with my husband this weekend about a similar topic. We have worked hard in our marriage of 18 years to get to the point where we can have difficult conversations that are heart-centered, non-judgmental and focused on bring more love and openness. It’s a work in progress but a meaningful one that has also impacted how I respond to others!

    Minette Riordan, Ph.D.

    Download a Free Sacred Money Archetype Assessment
    “Align your financial and spiritual success now!”

  2. Deanna, a beautiful reminder that we own the power (and right) to respond with love, grace and compassion even when the energy being directed our way may not be. Not always easy but always more fulfilling. Thank you for sharing!

  3. What a wonderful post, Deanna! Thanks so much for sharing and reminding us that our moment of being in the “hot seat,” is our chance to demonstrate how well we practice what we preach!

  4. Is there a season for this sort of thing? (Partly kidding although – seems that several people I know have been through something similar in the very recent past.)

    During my recent experience I was gifted with the lovely reminder that what a person hears sometimes is only minimally related to what I say… and that when what I *say* is a trigger? All bets are off. It isn’t “about” me. Then it’s just time to ride it out (to the best of my ability) with kindness and consistency and really, really good boundaries.

    “How you treat me is your karma, how I react is mine.”

    Thanks! You and your post treated me really well today.

  5. Ooooooh, I could feel myself getting triggered just reading it! This is an area I am constantly striving to be better and I have to work at it. I’ve come a long way and it’s reading honest, authentic posts like yours to keep me on the path. I love the quote “How you treat me is your Karma, how I react is mine.” That says it all! Thank you!

  6. Great advice Deanna. I do my best to “seek first to understand, then be understood.” Sometimes, even when we think we’re as crystal clear as we can be, someone else may still misunderstand the message we’re communicating. I’ve learned to ask others to repeat themselves if I feel I’m not understanding them.

    Nice to meet you via Linda’s private facebook group!

    Peggy Nolan

  7. This is wonderful advice – it’s all too easy to get defensive when someone attacks us. It’s almost like a trigger reaction. So much more calming to take a step back to think clearly before reacting. Thank you!

  8. Greta article as always Deanna! Being misunderstood allows me to open up and realizing who I am as a person. It is often there that I am open to connecting with my inner self and that fosters personal growth and self discovery

  9. This is very true. It can be hard not to get defensive, but we never should if possible as it only makes things worse. Sometimes we need to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations to move forward in life. Getting out of our comfor zones is hard, but it really helps. This was a great blog!

  10. Jim Striegel says:

    Being misunderstood is hard and frustrating at times. Good information here on how to handle.

  11. Explaining ourselves with grace takes tact and perfect timing.

  12. I was in a similar situation moments after reading this article. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences.

  13. Very inspiring! I’ve been always in that situation many times in college, but I have overcome it all. Great advice!

  14. Jo Casey says:

    This is so true – I think it goes right to that frustration point we experience as little kids – when we’re the victim of unfairness and feel frustrated to the point of foot stamping! So often the meaning we make of something is due to the interpretation we put on the behavior of others – it’s actually our stuff we’re projecting. You handled this woman’s projections really well.

  15. This is great advice – grace under fire is my new motto!

  16. Nice, Deanna, from the original song of Nina Simone: Dont Let Me Be Misunderstood by https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV-cBtANtVM .

    Some years ago i song this song to my self to give me the courage to talk or write the Sound of my Soul – Heart. As you say, we all have been misunderstood. In that time i tried to explain and explain again and it hurt. Know i have learned this is no use to. Some people are absolutely not interested to understand but only want to talk and talk and talk and talk again without understanding. So now i leave them in there convictions, tell or write my thing and that’s all, they hear or listen or they do not, this is not to me, i let them free.

    When we talk from Soul to Soul we understand each other even, sometimes, if it is in another language. Wisdom is about understanding. When we restrict ourselves in beliefs, convictions we are unable to understand.

    Like your posts !


  17. Michael B says:


    Thank you for the great information.

    I think that part of this misunderstanding process should include acknowledging to yourself in words spoken out loud that you say “I have been misunderstood”, and as a result I feel – search for your true feelings- hurt or perhaps a long list of other feelings like frustrated, angry, embarrassed, confused, surprised or even shocked.

    Then take a long pause and a deep breath and calmly return to the person or persons involved, and state “There has been a misunderstanding (without placing blame on you or anyone else) and hopefully together we clarify my message/intentions/commitment etc.”.

    Rather than dwell on the past, focus on the future.

    Thank you for helping me think this through. Hopefully, I will be better prepared the next time I am misunderstood.

  18. Well said, Deanna! I agree! ….I love the quote about Karma! So true.

  19. that was a great article. you are right though. being misunderstood is painful. I have try to slow down and think a little more before I speak

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