A few days ago, I was speaking with a coworker and she said something that I took to be a joke. I’d laughed at the time, but a few hours later, as I was going over the conversation in my mind, I wondered if she was joking or if she’d actually meant it. If so, it was very insulting. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but still… I then began to wonder how many times I, myself, have said something to someone jokingly, but they’d taken me seriously. I have a very dry sense of humor, which could be construed as serious rather than droll.
Words are often up for interpretation, and the struggle to understand meaning as well as intent can be daunting at times. Even with our spouses, a person that we should know very well and should know us very well, communicating can be complicated by the other person’s meaning and intent.
As a writer, communicating becomes even more difficult as voice inflection and tone must be relayed through descriptive phrases and can be misread or misinterpreted by the reader. The reality is that the eloquent words of a practiced author can be undone by the simple inattentiveness on the part of the reader.
Consider these words of wisdom:
“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19 NASB)
“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37 NASB)