50 of the Most Helpful Quotes About Misunderstandings

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Misunderstandings cause some of the biggest problems in our lives. Learning about misunderstandings and how to keep them from happening is one of the best skills we can learn. This knowledge and the practice of attempting to prevent misunderstandings can keep many of our problems from ever starting.

As grandmothers sometimes say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So we have gathered 50 of the most helpful quotes about misunderstandings, as our contribution to an ounce of prevention.

We present to you a well-rounded survey of great quotes to help you begin your path to understanding. You will find the delightful Oscar Wilde, the renowned Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, and many more.

These quotes demonstrate that misunderstandings are universal and timeless. But they also demonstrate that tools to prevent misunderstandings are available. We have thrown in some funny ones too!

Quotes About Misunderstandings

  1. “The same passions in man and woman nonetheless differ in tempo; hence man and woman do not cease misunderstanding one another.” Friedrich Nietzsche
  2. “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
  3. “Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.” Dream Hampton
  4. “There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody. And yours,” he replied with a smile, “is wilfully to misunderstand them.” Jane Austen
  5. “If a man cannot understand the beauty of life, it is probably because life never understood the beauty in him.” — Criss Jami
  6. “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” Albert Schweitzer
  7. “The best that can be said for anybody is probably that you misunderstood him favorably.” William Saroyan
  8. “The world only goes round by misunderstanding.” Charles Baudelaire
  9. “We’re all born with selfish desires, so we can all relate to those feelings in others. But kindness is something made individually by each person…so it’s easy to misunderstand when others are trying to be kind to you.” Natsuki Takaya
  10. “It is better to understand little than to misunderstand a lot.” Anatole France
  11. “Somewhere between love and hate lies confusion, misunderstanding and desperate hope.” Shannon L. Alder
  12. “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
  13. “The greatest distance between two people is a misunderstanding.” Unknown
  14. “They have the unique ability to listen to one story and understand another.” Pandora Poikilos
  15. “The text has disappeared under the interpretation.” Friedrich Nietzsche
  16. “It’s dreadful what little things lead people to misunderstand each other” L.M. Montgomery
  17. “It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. For if, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree.” Charles Baudelaire
  18. “It was not death she feared. It was misunderstanding.” Zora Neale Hurston
  19. “The proper basis for marriage is mutual misunderstanding.” Oscar Wilde
  20. “We may like to know the relevance of loyalty in an ever-shifting world and comprehend the essence of “commitment” in a rapidly altering relationship. In a frame of the “easy come easy go syndrome” many interpretations are brought to mind like “It was all a misunderstanding” or “I liked what the other did, but at this moment I must recognize he didn’t do what I really do like”. (“Was it all worthwhile?”)” Erik Pevernagie
  21. “We cannot control the way people interpret our ideas or thoughts, but we can control the words and tones we choose to convey them. Peace is built on understanding, and wars are built on misunderstandings. Never underestimate the power of a single word, and never recklessly throw around words. One wrong word, or misinterpreted word, can change the meaning of an entire sentence and start a war. And one right word, or one kind word, can grant you the heavens and open doors.” Suzy Kassem
  22. “They ended as all great passions do end—–by a misunderstanding.” Honore de Balzac
  23. “In human intercourse, the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.” Henry David Thoreau
  24. “In a language as idiomatically stressed as English, opportunities for misreadings are bound to arise. By a mere backward movement of stress, a verb can become a noun, an act a thing. To refuse, to insist on saying no to what you believe is wrong, becomes at a stroke refuse, an insurmountable pile of garbage.” Ian McEwan
  25. “The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change.” Edwin H. Friedman
  26. “The overall purpose of human communication is – or should be – reconciliation. It should ultimately serve to lower or remove the walls of misunderstanding which unduly separate us human beings, one from another.” M. Scott Peck
  27. “We can rarely see things from the point of view of another person because we look at the facts through the screen of an impression or an interest which distorts our view; and then there are accusations, quarrels and misunderstanding.” –Barry Long
  28. “We are aware that blaming and arguing can never help us and only create a wider gap between us; that only understanding, trust, and love can help us change and grow.” Thich Nhat Hanh
  29. “Love is a misunderstanding between two fools.” Oscar Wilde
  30. “We’re all islands shouting lies to each other across seas of misunderstanding.” Rudyard Kipling
  31. “In the whole round of human affairs little is so fatal to peace as misunderstanding.” Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
  32. “Be not disturbed at being misunderstood; be disturbed rather at not being understanding.” Chinese Proverb
  33. “Unfortunately, missing the author’s point, or not understanding the book, is not enough to prevent one from reviewing and/or rating it.” Mokokoma Mokhonoana
  34. “There is so much we don’t understand. And so much unhappiness comes because of that.” Alice Walker
  35. “A beautiful relationship does not depend on how well we understand someone. But it depends on how well we avoid the misunderstanding.” Unknown
  36. “The misunderstanding of truth does not destroy the truth.” Vissarion Belinsky
  37. “The best conversations are with yourself. At least there’s no risk of a misunderstanding.” Olga Tokarczuk
  38. “There is no communication that is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood.” Luigina Sgarro
  39. The word love has by no means the same sense for both sexes, and this is one cause of the serious misunderstandings that divide them.” Simone de Beauvoir
  40. “The fresh “breeze of freedom” that so many people promise lightheartedly, so often, remains void in the hot desert of yearning expectations. Pretending that everything is just a deplorable misunderstanding, may soothe their conscience and let them walk out easily on their pledge.” Erik Pevernagie
  41. “You always risk people misunderstanding you when you say anything.” Phil Lord
  42. “Not knowing how venom kills does not take away the usefulness of knowing that it does.” Mokokoma Mokhonoana
  43. “Nothing is easier than for two people in love to misunderstand each other.” Marty Rubin
  44. “Where misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood.” Lionel Trilling
  45. “Whenever you find yourself judging your partner, go back to your in-breath and out-breath, and ask, How can I see this differently? Can I look more deeply to better understand her suffering and her difficulties?” Thich Nhat Hanh
  46. “The only thing for sure we know about communication is that we tend to get it wrong.” Michael Ray Smith
  47. “Many parents love their children. Yet they make them suffer a lot in the name of love. They’re often not capable of understanding their children’s suffering, difficulties, hopes, and aspirations. We have to ask ourselves, “Am I really loving the other person by understanding them or am I just projecting my own needs?” Thich Nhat Hanh
  48. “For weeks I had mistaken his stare for barefaced hostility. I was wide of the mark. It was simply a shy man’s way of holding someone else’s gaze. We were, it finally dawned on me, the two shyest persons in the world.” André Aciman
  49. “Let them judge you, but remain virtuous. Let them criticize you, but remain wise. Let them misunderstand you, but remain kind. Let them hate you, but remain exceptional.” Matshona Dhliwayo
  50. “Not understanding something, especially if you have an active imagination, always makes something feel worse than it is.” –John Maberry


On the topic of misunderstandings: It’s helpful to know that even when we misunderstand others, we can see the effects and seek to remedy the misunderstanding. We are not doomed to live in any case of misunderstood words or intentions. If someone has misunderstood you, chances are you will see a clue and be able to repair the relationship quickly.

These 50 inspirational quotes can help us all in our efforts to be clear in our conversations and to avoid misunderstandings before they become hurtful. Use them to remind you that we can all prevent or repair any misunderstanding.