He says: Are you sure you want dessert?Chocolate Cake Slice with Raspberries
She hears:  Haven’t you had enough? You should eat less.

He meant:  If we leave right now maybe I can still catch the last quarter of the big game on TV.

When our feelings get hurt while communicating with loved ones, we are typically reacting to what we think the other person meant rather than to what he or she actually said.

However, since meanings are frightfully easy to misinterpret (and most of us are not very good mind-readers), the next time you start to feel angry, defensive, or hurt by something someone has said to you, try responding like this:

I’m not sure what you mean by that…

in as gentle and neutral of a tone as you can.

By putting your reaction on hold until you are clear about the other person’s true intention, you’ll be able to derail unnecessary conflicts before they drain time, love, and energy from your relationship.