Mixed Messages

I know several people who tend to give off very mixed messages, mostly because their actions don’t match their words, but sometimes it’s because they say one thing one time and another thing another time.  They can’t seem to make up their minds or remember what they said, or maybe they just have poor communication skills. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with that person, regardless of whether it is a family member, friend, or significant other.

I have difficulty with people who give off mixed messages because I tend to be a very straight-forward person who doesn’t play games.  It’s not too difficult to figure out how I feel about something or someone because I will usually tell you.  And my actions usually match my words pretty well.  If you are making me happy or I appreciate something you did or said, not only will I tell you, but I will often show you.  And if you are making me frustrated or angry, I will tell you that too, not only with words but also with my body language.  I can be civil when I need to be, but I have a hard time hiding when I really prefer to not be in the same room with someone for good reason.

I know people though who will tell me or others what they really think of their spouse but will still try to give off the impression to their spouse at least some of the time that things are good or that there is still a chance things could improve.  Yet, when it really comes down to it, there is no real interest in improving the relationship whatsoever.  They just give enough to keep the other person from wanting to walk away because they don’t want to be alone or a single parent, for example.  I see this all as being manipulative, which is never a good thing.

I’ve had to deal with people who give off mixed messages in work or volunteer-related situations where they say one thing to one person and something else to another person so that ultimately it works out that they get what they want.  The problem is that they lose credibility and trust, and they come off as being very two-faced and insincere.  And they even burn bridges with people as well.  It’s still manipulation and playing games, which doesn’t go over well with me.

Other people give off mixed messages not so intentionally.  I don’t see this necessarily as being manipulative, but it still makes it difficult when you’re dealing with someone who is hot and cold, who keeps changing their mind, or who can’t keep things straight. It’s difficult to figure out what they’re thinking, what they want or need, what will make them happy, and so on.  They may respond positively to something one day and then negatively the next.  So it’s a constant guessing game as to what to do or say.

Everyone has off days or times where they are going to behave or react a little differently due to stress, hormones, sadness, or whatever reason.  So no one is completely predictable, and the world would be a boring place if we all were. However, consistency sure can be helpful when it comes to relationships, good or bad.  That way everyone knows where they stand and doesn’t have to constantly be playing guessing games trying to interpret all the mixed messages.

Related posts include Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Intentions and Being Mindful, and Communication.

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2 thoughts on “Mixed Messages

  1. This one is definitely hitting home for me. You’re absolutely right that it’s very frustrating…and draining. I can’t keep up! If only knowing that someone else understands would magically make the problem go away, right?


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