There’s always a [TRUTH]


A little [EMOTION]

Behind [I DON’T CARE]

A little [PAIN]

Behind [IS’S OKAY]

A little [I NEED YOU]


And a lot of [WORDS]


Hey !! it is s so cold in the restaurant, Swati told her friend Amit. They were out in a restaurant for a lunch date. After the lunch, Amit realised that Swati looked annoyed, though it was a long-awaited meeting a quality time they were looking forward from last few months. Amit and Swati were pals from last 7years and were now closed to deciding their togetherness socially and legally. Swati’s reaction was completely unexpected, and Amit was wondering what went wrong. This is one example but there are many such small incidents that happen in our day to day life when we really go clueless in a relation with our known and loved ones, why suddenly they stopped talking or became rude or maintaining distance…. What Went Wrong??

What went wrong situation is the by-product of the communication that happen “Between the lines”, an unsaid and unexpressed meaning, the wires may get crossed. In the above situation, Amit could not understand that Swati expected him to understand her discomfort and take some action. When she said it was cold, he couldn’t read between the lines that she was eyeing on the gesture of care from him which could be like talking to manager for temperature adjustment or bring her scarf. He caught the wrong end of the stick that annoyed her. This happen many times, a small action missed, or an implicit message may start an internal dialect in interpersonal relationship which may eventually lead to stiffening or suffocation between two people. Listening is not only hearing; it is more about observing the body language and the tone in which the message is conveyed. Reading between lines is Understanding a meaning Beyond Words, that are not made obvious or explicit. It is the culmination of all these.

Between the lines happens when message heard/acknowledged by the receiver in not what is intended by the sender. A Message is just like a packet that comes in combination of content and feelings. The content is the overt representation of message i.e., the words and the feelings are the unexpressed part of it.

Communication is a complex process; it is not only exchange of words but also the swapping of minced words. Reading and understanding the unread is an art. Interestingly, the emotional state of both sender and receiver also impacts the understanding of message. Thoughts and feelings with which the transaction happened has a major part to play in interpretation of the lines in between. Like, if a person comes home after a hectic day and is feeling irritated, and somehow talks a little rudely to his wife, (though he didn’t intend to), but on the other hand, the wife remains calm as she is able to guess from his body language and responds him in a neutral or positive way. In such situation, the room of misunderstanding or unread lines is high in what the sender intends to say and how he conveys. Both people filtered the message through their own channels of thoughts and feelings. The non-verbal cues like body language, tone, facial expression, volume of voice communicated more than words. This is the point where unread or overread lines may result in confusion and misunderstandings but adeptly grasping the unsaid, unexpressed can be a blessing for both at times.  

Just like a coin, that has two sides, reading between lines also has two aspects. On the brighter side, it is symbolic of the immense strength and understanding with people that share depth of emotional ties with you. Even without seeing you physically they realize probably through the modulation of voice or usage of words that something is amiss, like, the vigour in flow of words etc., can be the cues. Also, when face to face they can make out that your eyes and words fail to couple each other. For e.g., usually your mom is one person on earth, she can easily guess when you are upset, even though you haven’t verbalised anything, but there is an eternal connection where she can read the eyes.

Another example that all married people can  relate could be, a conversation between a couple, A husband asks wife, What happened ?and she replies, Nothing, in an offended tone; reading between the lines here implies that I am too angry to tell you.” Now it is up to the husband how he interprets “Nothing” Many such similar instance happens in relationships when message is conveyed in an abstruse or an incomplete manner. The freedom to interpret it, is given to the receiver with an expectation that he /she will understand the intended meaning that has not been explicitly expressed. Confusions, misunderstandings, and rifts in relationship are the result of misinterpretation of hidden words in between the lines. At times they are also infused with sarcasm and rudeness. Many partnerships break due to expectation of but obvious. The obvious that is not outrightly said and deliberately left for the listener to ponder on. This dualistic approach is like creating a dent in a relationship. It is an implicit communication style that heads a slow regressive death of a relationship.

On the other hand, professionally if the communication is done in between the lines, it is considered as unethical and a malpractice. It is like a masking of real side of the organisation. Practising this approach in business transactions may result in short term benefits but can have long term implications in terms of finances and business associations. Basically, talking between the lines is like manipulation of information that should be avoided at all costs. For e.g., companies that offer lucrative discounts always mention small caption on one side *terms and conditions apply*. It is a classic example of marketing where the customer is left to interpret between the lines (missing out the key information), which majority ignores.

Communication is the very foundation for blossoming of any relationship whether professional or personal. It should be crisp and clear. Active listening and assessing every situation for underlying causes, effects and principles should be practised while communicating. Transparency in transactions gives strength to the associations involved. Unfinished lines, half answers, or one words must be kept at bay. The mere assumption of understanding the but obvious can create distances and misunderstandings. Reading between lines is a skill. Not everybody is skilled to understand it, all conspiracies and complexities in a relationship are the result of unread and overread lines, and must be discouraged.

Look between the lines. Read between the words. the most important things are left unsaid and unheard.

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