I Think You’re Missing My Point
“Do you hear me telling you that you’re not hearing me!?” It almost sounds like one of those circular conversations Lucy would have with Charlie Brown ...

The Awkward START

Haven’t we all been in that somewhat awkward moment, either witnessing the exchange between others or perhaps being on the receiving end of an “I think you’re missing my point” statement? The moments following that statement are crucial in determining how the rest of the conversation goes, especially when it comes to the receiver’s response. What do we hear when someone uses those words and are the words alone enough to interpret meaning, or is tone and context also important? I mean, whether you hear it or read it, emphasizing one word over the other changes the way it can be interpreted.


I think you’re missing my point”,

“I think you’re missing my point”

“I think you’re missing my point”

“I think you’re missing my point”

“I think you’re missing my point”

“I think you’re missing my point


The statement begins with the word “I”, which alone immediately communicates some level of taking on accountability and is often a great way to start the communication. Tony Robbins, “How To Use I-Statements”, says that “An “I-statement,” …forces us to take responsibility for what we are thinking and feeling and prevents us from blaming our partners.” I-statements also imply some level of assertiveness and Robbins advises that, “we can still be assertive, but find a less hostile, more compassionate way to communicate. Tone of voice – vocal inflection, volume and pitch – is an important piece of communication puzzle that we often forget about.”  The word following “I” in this statement sets the path and tone of the statement. 


That word is, “think”. It’s what our parents have always said to us, right? Think about your future. Think about your choices. Think about what you’re going to say before you say it! The act of thinking has been bronzed in a sculpture by Auguste Rodin dubbed, “Le Penseur", as it helps us reflect on reflecting. Yet, here we are, perhaps just throwing it around in a way that negates the accountability of “I” because when you say, “I think”, what you’re really saying is “I’m not sure” and probably what’s coming is “I’m not sure because of something you did, not me!” Ultimately, also creating an escape route for yourself because if you “think” and aren’t certain, then if by some reason you’re wrong, well, you didn’t take full ownership of your words, because you were only thinking!


As you move on to the third word, you’ve pretty much solidified the accusation. In three simple words you went from owning the confusion, concern, disagreement by starting with “I”, removing any responsibility by using “think”, and then completely shifting the issue you’re having onto the receiver, as you call them out with a hard “you’re”. You know, the reversal of the gentler and cliché, “It’s not you, it’s me,” except here you’ve washed your hands of any ownership and likely raised the defence reflex of your receiver.  


Now, if the next word was heading towards something nice, like “I think you’re awesome”, or “I think you’re a kind person”, or “I think you’re going to love this food”, well, then it softens the transition of the first three words towards perhaps a more positive outcome, although you’re still unsure about it as you continue to “think”, but that’s not what you’re doing here when you use the word “missing”. You’ve now identified what the person has done wrong, or at least what you think they’ve done wrong, which of course still gives you that escape route, but it’s hard to recover from awkwardness at this point because when you identify the other person is missing something, you’re telling them they’ve failed, they achieved a void of some sort at the very best. Like an addictive infomercial, it gets worse though as you continue to close out the statement.


You see, it’s not bad enough you’ve pointed out that they’ve missed something, now you’re going to tell them that they’re not listening to you when you say this is “my” point. You’ve completely asserted yourself as the victim! “Hey, I told you something and you’re not hearing me! Do you hear me telling you that you’re not hearing me!?” It almost sounds like one of those circular conversations Lucy would have with Charlie Brown and then take his 5 cents for her advice services, but he was always left looking as lost as he did when he first started talking to her. 


The last word at this point is somewhat inconsequential. I mean, it could really be anything that the person has missed, but at the same time, there’s still something about saying “point” that grinds away at the perceived failure. The fact that you’ve made a point about something, whatever that point is, and that the other person missed your point, reinforces the transition of failure and misunderstanding to the receiver.


So, what could you say instead of “I think you’re missing my point”? How about, “Can you help me better understand”, or “Could you consider this feedback as you update your next version of the presentation”, or “I’d like to provide additional clarity on my feedback.”  That last statement is a step towards taking true and full accountability for your words and what you’re thinking. 


My point is this, telling someone that you think they’ve missed your point does nothing for building your relationship and the receiver will likely remember that moment or statement more than they will any potential constructive thing you might have said. 


Get your point across, own it, and do it in a way that builds trust, healthy communication, and mutual constructive opportunities.


This is an opinion article by Guido Piraino of  The Monthly Social Podcast. It may also be heard on The Path Radio Mix Online

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1. Tony Robbins: https://www.tonyrobbins.com/love-relationships/words-matter-you-vs-i/ 



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