One phrase that I am frequently hearing way too often is, "You misunderstood me. That is not what I meant."

Now, this phrase is only ever acceptable during the instance where the party making this statement is referring to an inaudible word or clarification. This is, and I repeat, the only time that stating "you misunderstood me" will ever be somewhat acceptable. (Even in this situation, choosing to rephrase the sentence as follows: "I'm sorry, but I said..." is a much kinder way to direct the correction of the conversation.)

When you tell somebody that they "misunderstood," you are blatantly blaming this person for their simple act of interpreting your comment. Everyone has the ability to interpret, analyze, and synthesize the information that they are presented. Telling somebody that they "misunderstood" your comment undermines their ability to interpret, analyze, and synthesize; in reality, this is not the case. Perhaps their ability to directly read your mind has proven to be mediocre; however, their ability to organize and some to a conclusion based off of the information that you have provided them is not compromised.

Stop categorizing YOUR miscommunication as MY misunderstanding, please.

You may be unaware that this seemingly harmless comment even causes so much discontent when used; thus, I am bringing it to your attention to prevent future uses from commencing.

The harm results from lacking to take responsibility for your actions and placing them solely on me. In using the phrase, "you misunderstood," you are telling the other person in this communication pair that the misfortune of failing to attain the "right" information is due to their inability to know what you meant to say. One of the most interesting features of being human is the luxury of a highly evolved brain giving us the ability to think at such an advanced level. Thus, using this ability to analyze and synthesize new information provide an opportunity to come to conclusions about scenarios that we experience.

It has been brought to my awareness that there are a plethora of ways to do something; never is there one single "right" way to pursue an idea. Consequently, there are many ways to think about a problem and come to a conclusion, so it should come by no surprise that sometimes there may be different ways to perceive a situation, whether that be through verbal communication or physical body cues.

Rather than telling me that I "misunderstood" you, admitting that a "miscommunication" occurred is a better way to handle the situation. This simple word choice demonstrates that you recognize equal responsibility between the party doing the speaking and the party doing the listening. This is a much healthier approach because it does not place blame on the listener for having "misunderstood" the speaker when we should not have expectations for the listener to know exactly what the speaker poorly relayed.

Consequently, there is an opportunity to clear up any uncertainties when you acknowledge that there has been a "miscommunication" rather than if you attempted to tell somebody that they "misunderstood" you; the former word choice allows the speaker to explain what they intended to say. Ultimately, this alleviates any confusion and prevents any hurt feelings by diverting the aggression that is affiliated with the connotation of the phrase, "you misunderstood."