Ben Whiting, a good friend, recently published this excellent blog post on selfishness and communication.
Here's a quote from his introduction:
Growing up in a family with four siblings, I’ve been in my share of
arguments over what he or she “meant.” Those arguments often end this
way–the speaker ends up pointing out his good intentions. “That isn’t
what I meant.” And then the listener insists, “Well, it is what you said.”
One person is focused on the objective meaning of the words, and the
other is focused on the subjective meaning that was intended for those
words. Surely one stance is right and one is wrong.
I urge you to read the rest of Ben's post.
I certainly needed it.