In the book by Don Miguel Ruiz titled The Four Agreements, the second agreement is "don't take things personally" and the third is "don't make assumptions". This is amazingly simple advice and yet so difficult for people to comprehend.
We all perceive the world through our own filters, and we must be aware of that when we communicate with others. If a person we are talking to views the world through a negative filter, then chances are, that something we say innocently will be misconstrued as negative. They will say something to us, and we will take it personally. And this is where the second agreement comes into play. In recognizing that they are telling us something about themselves, not about us. Letting us know that they view the world differently then we do. And why would we want to take such a thing personally?
As for not making assumptions, I have a good example of that. I was once told by my husband of the time that I was competitive. I was quite upset by him saying that because I am not at all competitive. We went back and forth with "You so are" and "I so am not'. I started spinning off into my own story about how he doesn't know me at all if he thinks I'm competitive and why would he say that about me. And as I was spinning off into the story, something made me stop and ask "What is your meaning of competitive?" To me it means that everything is about winning and making everything about being better than someone else. His answer was, "It means that you're always trying to better yourself. That he would compete with his friend in skiing to get down the hill first, because he knew if he did that he was getting better because his friend is a good skier". That is the danger of making assumptions that the people that we are talking to have the same "perceptions" of life and vocabulary that we do.
So when something upsets us, it's always good to stop and ask, "what do you mean by that?" Many times we have a totally different idea of things than they do and unless we ask, we don't know that we're not on the same page.
Perceptions are not right or wrong, they simply go with the territory and we need to know how the other person thinks in order to have some understanding of what they are saying to us. So the next time you find yourself getting annoyed with what someone is saying, stop and ask yourself if you really understand what they are saying to you, or are you perceiving it through your own filters..........