We all know that people are different; motivated by different things, an array of likes & dislikes. Some people are easier for us to relate to & others are so very foreign.
What really helps when you're trying to understand someone is to get out of your head & stop defending yourself. Stop thinking about what you're going to say next, or why they are wrong, and try to hear the words (or emotion) like they are coming from you. You may have to step away from the direct interaction & give it some quiet reflection, but once you know where they start their thought process, it gives their words a little different weight.
A fun place to start is to read about Love Languages. There are 5 basic ways people express love to others and how they receive love themselves:
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch
For example, my mother. We can all relate - sometimes she says the most irritating things. (no worries mom, this ends well) but really everything she says to me comes from a place of caring. Sometimes I'll think her tone is judging, but really I'm reading that into it - based on how I'm feeling about that particular topic (past or present) or whatever mood I'm in. If the conversation comes back up in my head later, I try to hear it without my perception on it - what did she really say to me? She said she was concerned, that she wanted to make sure I'd thought of an option that maybe I hadn't considered. Or she needed to know that I had a plan and if I wanted her help. She's trying to support me. My mom is an Acts of Service kind of love. She cleans my house & watches my kids, takes care of my dog and does errands for me. She tells me she loves me, but she shows it all the time.
Some of us need to be reassured with words, others really feel the love when reminded with gifts. If you give each area some consideration, you can see where different people just hear things a little differently than you might. It just gives a little clarity as to why one of your kids might really love some cuddling while the other needs to show you everything they do.
Now run out there & share the LOVE!!