Pet Peeve #23: People Telling You What They Thought You Said

“‘Peanut butter’? I thought you said ‘Pee in it, bud’!”

Fact 1: When we mishear someone, especially if we don’t yet know that we misheard them, the results are hilarious…in our own minds.

Fact 2: The words we mishear are rarely hilarious to anyone but ourselves.

It’s really important to distinguish between these two facts. Things you mishear should fall into the category of dreams: Really amusing to ourselves, rarely amusing to anyone else. I would go as far as to say that the only dreams that should be shared are sex dreams.

Think of the last time someone told you what they thought you said. Think about the whole conversation. You’re telling a story, and someone says, “What?” You repeat the last line of your story.

What should happen next is that you’re allowed to continue with your story. Instead, the other person deems misperception important enough to completely interrupt you and tell you what they thought they heard. Keep in mind that this information isn’t important in reality at all. They are telling you something that does not exist anywhere else in the universe except in their head.

And so you have to take a break from your story to show at least some interest in what the person thought you said. You have to do something to segue back into your story.

Now, there are exceptions. I have been told some truly hilarious misheard phrases. But it’s pretty rare. Rare enough that if you mishear someone, save the phrase in your mind to put on Facebook or Twitter later. But don’t interrupt your friend. Let them tell their story.

Also see Pet Peeve #24: The Pronunciation of “Thames”


One Response to “Pet Peeve #23: People Telling You What They Thought You Said”

  1. Jasmin says:

    People misheard me lots of times. They usually laugh and then I chuckle along with a confused dog look and ask, ‘what did I say?’ I mispronounce words like wreck with rack and break with brick. It’s hard to hear the difference to me.

    I think your pet peeve is my pet please. It’s really funny when two people with hard of hearing or just not paying attention to each other trying to converse. They usually talk about two totally different things. My parents do that a lot and it’s quite a show during dinner time.

    And also, for a person who have learned two or more languages, what one person says can sound totally different to the other person in their native tongue. For example, my mom told my uncle that twenty minutes later in English. My uncle translated as Spring arrives in May in Cantonese. See. Totally different. We were laughing our heads off the whole way there.

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