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misspoke

Check Your Assumptions Before Taking Action

Life as a graduate student at Ohio University would have been demanding enough my first year without that inconsiderate neighbor in the building behind me. Every night while my wife and two small children were trying to get to sleep, this guy took his dog “Deal” out for an evening walk.

For ten minutes or so, that pet owner would call his unleashed dog by name dozens of times, with his loud voice echoing between those two brick buildings, shattering the silence my family needed for sleep.

I BECAME ASSERTIVE
After several weeks of tolerating his annoying and thoughtless behavior, I decided to confront the night walker. I did that one evening when he entered our apartment building, with his dog close by. Without introducing myself or using a courteous tone, I blurted out:
“Look, buddy, I’m fed up with you and that dog of yours. Every night when you take him out for a walk and yell ‘Deal, Deal’ every few seconds, not only do you keep my family awake, you upset us so much we can’t calm down when you take your mutt Deal back inside. Enough is enough. Get the message?”

He looked startled. I understood why when he answered, “Hey, man, you’re complaining to the wrong guy. This is my first time here. I’m just visiting a friend on second floor in that other building.”

Of course, my tone changed. I apologized. Even this long afterward, I remember blushing too.

APPLYING THE COMMUNICATION LESSON I LEARNED
As I recall that embarrassing blunder today, I know I’d like to have a couple of minutes to talk with the prominent individuals who create national and even international news daily by making statements based on assumptions—assumptions not supported by facts.

Yet because I won’t have an opportunity to challenge their baseless statements, renowned public figures will just keep saying they “misspoke,” “misremembered,” or had their remarks “taken out of context.”

Oh, you’ll notice I haven’t named any of the culprits. My guess is you have identified at least a dozen of them already.