Communication between people is more complex than we give it credit for. First, we interpret what others mean. Then, we respond according to our interpretation. The problem? The way we interpret things is primarily outside of our awareness. Let's learn from an example.
Jake and Jackie have been married for ten years and have two children, Janet, age three, and Jacob, six. Both parents work full-time, and the school needs to call to have Jacob picked up because he just got sick and has a fever. So, who is the first parent the office is going to call, Jake or Jackie?...
How come you picked your answer? Experience, culture, something else? Ok, in this scenario, it's Jackie. She has the thought, "Why am I always the first one to get called? Don't they know they know we both work?" She proceeds to call her spouse in an aggressive tone, "It's your turn to pick up the child." Jake thinks, "Why would I need to? That's not my job." How's this conversation going to end?
Kids...they aren't convenient, but gosh, do we love them.
But what's missing? To name a few, does the office's system list students' contacts in a specific order? Does the staff call in that order? Do the office staff know the students that have parents who both work? Who does the staff usually get a hold of? What did the childrearing responsibilities look like in Jake and Jackie's families growing up, and did that influence how they responded?
These factors influence us in the background of our communication with others every day. With all that going on in microseconds, it may be worth the few-second pause to understand what others are saying before automatically reacting. After all, who doesn't want to feel listened to, heard, and understood?