What I Meant to Say

It’s not unusual for a couple to be talking about a previous conversation and a partner remembers the discussion differently. The tendency is for the communicator to respond, “That’s not what I said.” and for the recipient to say “That is what you said.” Now the couple is having an argument about what was “actually” said. You can see how unproductive this can be.

A more effective response is, “What I meant to say is. . . .” Regardless of how the initial statement was expressed, the recipient didn’t hear it the way it was intended. The original statement could have been delivered more effectively or the recipient may have misinterpreted the statement. Without a video recording evaluated by a neutral third party, the couple will never know definitively. Therefore saying “What I meant to say is . . ,” allows the communicator to re-express him or herself in a way that enables the message to be received accurately this go-around.