Can we fully understand another person? Or do we only hear what we want to hear? Do we just put our own meanings into others’ words? Our list of misunderstanding quotes may give answers to these questions.
Understanding is probably one of the most unreachable things in life. Sometimes even those we care about don’t always “get” us, which can cause pain and alienation. Yet, there is a single root of all misunderstandings: we see other people and everything they do and say from our—not their—perspective and level of perception.
We tailor their decisions and behaviors to ourselves, forgetting that every person is unique, and everyone has their own motivations, which may be totally different from ours. That’s why misunderstanding happens in relationships and friendships, and that’s why there are so many great, profound quotes on this topic. After all, every one of us seeks to be accepted and understood, especially by our friends and loved ones.
The below quotes about misunderstanding explore and explain these problems of human communication. If you ever feel misunderstood, I’m sure that you will enjoy our compilation.
72 Misunderstanding Quotes That Show Why It’s So Hard to Understand Others
1. If you knew how rarely people actually understand you, you’d speak less.
2. Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.
If you agree with this quote, you may also want to read about the reasons why to be great is to be misunderstood.
3. The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.
4. He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.
5. Understanding is deeper than knowledge. There are many people who know us, but there are very few who understand us.
6. The worst distance between two people is misunderstanding.
7. The more you understand, the less you are understood by other people.
8. You know people. Most of them don’t hear anything. Those who hear – don’t listen. A few who listen – don’t understand. And those who could understand… they don’t care.
9. It’s dreadful what little things lead people to misunderstand each other.
10. Sometimes a person’s silence means “I’m tired of explaining to people who don’t even care to understand.”
Do you feel this way? Read about what it means when no one understands you.
11. Always remember that it is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood: there will always be some who misunderstand you.
12. I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.
Is this how you feel? It could be that your friends don’t care about you—you can read about it here.
13. Somewhere between love and hate lies confusion, misunderstanding, and desperate hope.
-Shannon L. Alder
14. The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
-George Bernard Shaw
15. In the end, everyone can understand themselves only. You are the only one to which you never have to explain what you mean. Everything else is misunderstanding.
But what if you don’t even understand yourself? Take a look at this guide on how to be true to yourself.
16. I am only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.
17. Always say exactly what you feel. People are hurt more by misunderstanding than anything else.
18. There is no communication that is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood.
19. Don’t make assumptions unless you know the whole story. If in doubt, ask the person directly.
20. Most of the trouble in life comes from misunderstanding.
21. We’re all islands shouting lies to each other across seas of misunderstanding.
22. A single moment of misunderstanding is so poisonous that it makes us forget the hundreds of lovable moments we’ve spent together within a minute.
23. As soon as we start putting our thoughts into words and sentences, everything gets distorted. Language is just no damn good—I use it because I have to, but I don’t put any trust in it. We never understand each other.
24. We cannot control the way people interpret our ideas or thoughts, but we can control the words and tones we choose to convey them. Peace is built on understanding, and wars are built on misunderstandings.
25. They have the unique ability to listen to one story and understand another.
26. Misunderstanding is like a tumor. If you don’t take care of it, it will grow bigger and bigger.
27. Please don’t expect me to always be good and kind and loving. There are times when I will be cold and thoughtless and hard to understand.
Does this quote speak to you? You may want to read about the struggles of living with an aloof personality.
28. Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.
29. The fear of being misunderstood is the beginning of mediocrity.
-Ogwo David Emenike
If you strongly agree with this saying, I’m certain that you will also enjoy this compilation of quotes about standing out from the crowd.
30. A mistake is to commit a misunderstanding.
31. I stopped explaining myself when I realized other people only understand from their level of perception.
If you like the vibe this misunderstanding quote gives off, you may also want to check our article about feeling disappointed in people.
32. Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.
33. The only thing for sure we know about communication is that we tend to get it wrong.
-Michael Ray Smith
34. Nothing is easier than for two people in love to misunderstand each other.
35. There are some people who could hear you speak a thousand words and still not understand you, and there are others who will understand without you even speaking a word.
Do you feel this way about the people in your life? You could be in the wrong company. Learn about the red flags in friendships to make sure you surround yourself with the right people.
36. Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?”
-Shannon L. Alder
37. I have suffered from being misunderstood, but I would have suffered a hell of a lot more if I had been understood.
38. And it worries me how misunderstandings exist because people would rather have a hole in their heart than to talk their issues out.
39. Don’t expect her to paraphrase her life for you; she was born to be a story. And if you can’t understand that, then perhaps she’s beyond your reading level.
Do you have a person in your life who seems unapproachable and too difficult to understand? Check through the signs someone doesn’t want to be your friend.
40. Excessive talk leads to misunderstandings.
41. Love is a strange and inexplicable mix of comprehension and misunderstanding.
42. Misunderstandings, if left unsolved, will push people so apart that they might never come together again.
Does this misunderstanding quote make you think about your friendship? Read through the signs you are growing apart from your friends.
43. It’s extraordinary, the amount of misunderstandings there are even between two people who discuss a thing quite often – both of them assuming different things and neither of them discovering the discrepancy.
44. It’s remarkable the logic we’ll build around a misapprehension.
45. 10% of conflict is due to a difference of opinion and 90% is due to the wrong tone of voice.
46. But as with all geniuses, being ahead of her time meant leading a rather lonely and misunderstood existence.
47. Most of the problems in life are because:
We misunderstand people’s intentions,
We don’t listen and jump to conclusions,
Then we are too proud to apologize and too stubborn to forgive.
48. The great enemy of communication, we find, is the illusion of it. We have talked enough; but we have not listened. And by not listening we have failed to concede the immense complexity of our society—and thus the great gaps between ourselves and those with whom we seek understanding.
-William H. Whyte
49. But luxury has never appealed to me, I like simple things, books, being alone, or with somebody who understands.
-Daphne du Maurier
Does this quote describe who you are? You may enjoy this article about people who like being alone.
50. It’s very important to choose our words very carefully because miscommunication leads to misunderstanding, which rarely leads to anything good.
-Charles F. Glassman
51. Between two brains, there will always be misunderstandings and lies caused by parasitic smells, drafts and poor-quality reception.
52. Have you ever considered, beloved other, how invisible we are to each other? We look at each other without seeing. We listen to each other and hear only a voice inside out self.
The words of others are mistakes of our hearing, shipwrecks of our understanding. How confidently we believe OUR meanings of other people’s words.
53. But they were fated to misunderstand each other.
54. Don’t judge my choices without understanding my reasons.
55. Misunderstanding must be nakedly exposed before true understanding can begin to flourish.
56. The world only goes round by misunderstanding.
57. Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
58. You always risk people misunderstanding you when you say anything.
59. I’ve only met about 3 or 4 people who genuinely understand me. Everyone else just assumes I’m angry, sarcastic, or an asshole.
60. So many great ideas come out of a misunderstanding.
61. Sometimes it takes a misunderstanding for you to truly understand where you stand with a person.
62. Distance doesn’t separate people. Misunderstanding does.
If you feel like a friend is trying to distance themselves from you, you may want to check through the signs to know for sure.
63. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
64. What if everything in the world were a misunderstanding, what if laughter were really tears?
65. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.
66. Texting is a brilliant way to miscommunicate how you feel and misinterpret what other people mean.
67. Beware of the half-truth. You may have gotten hold of the wrong half.
68. Every one interprets everything in terms of his own experience. If you say anything which does not touch a precisely similar spot in another man’s brain, he either misunderstands you, or doesn’t understand you at all.
69. Fights between individuals, as well as governments and nations, invariably result from misunderstandings in the broadest interpretation of this term. Misunderstandings are always caused by the inability of appreciating one another’s point of view.
70. Never choose anyone without complete understanding and never lose anyone because of a small misunderstanding.
Is it just a misunderstanding in your relationship or friendship, as this quote suggests? Or are you wasting your time with the wrong person? Read about the instances when you should stay away from someone.
71. They ended as all great passions do end – by a misunderstanding.
-Honore de Balzac
72. Five minutes of communication can save a year’s worth of turmoil and misunderstanding.
Misunderstanding Is Unavoidable But Possible to Overcome
All these quotes boil down to one simple truth: misunderstanding will always exist, whether it’s a friendship, a romantic relationship, or a family union. This is because it’s much easier to jump to conclusions and misinterpret someone’s words and behaviors than try to actually understand them.
At the same time, the above misunderstanding quotes remind us that we should always consider other people’s feelings, even when we don’t agree with them. In essence, all we need to do to avoid misunderstandings is to put ourselves in others’ shoes before judging someone.
It’s such a simple idea, and yet, this is so difficult to do in practice. That’s why misunderstanding is unavoidable. We can only do our best to be less selfish and more understanding with those around us.