A lot of miscommunication starts because two people interpret the same event differently.
A: We don’t go out enough.
B: We always go out.
If we are to look at just the two statements above, we can’t be sure what really happened.
The two people are so fixated on their own point of view that they have become blind to another person’s reality. And this is what our judgmental thoughts do to us. They confine us to a BOX and it becomes hard to see anything other than our point of view.
So what do we do then?
A good place to start is at a neutral place. Instead of getting caught up in our own interpretations, we want to develop the capacity to see clearly without mixing our judgments.
What this means is to be able to define an event for what it is rather than what we would have liked it to be.
So in the earlier example, neutral observation would be: In the last two months, we have gone out to eat 5 times. This would be the answer to the question: खासमा के भएको हो? (What really happened?).
A interprets this as not enough time spent together. B interprets this as enough time spent together eating out.
Here are some more examples:
Judgmental thought: This person is selfish.
Observation: This person, having ordered food online, didn’t ask me if I also wanted to eat something.
Judgmental thought: I’m no good.
Observation: I score 53% on the test.
Judgmental thought: She’s a great communicator!
Observation: I found myself wanting to applaud her efforts during the presentation.
Evaluations like diagnosis, judgments and criticisms keep us stuck because:
- They prime us to see others as obstacles we need to overcome.
- They stop us from communicating what we are feeling and needing.
- They provoke defensiveness in others and as a result, we get caught up in the ‘who is right’ game.
When we focus instead of starting with a neutral observation, we help:
- Provide enough context for another person to understand where we are coming from.
- Reduce defensiveness.
- Minimize misunderstandings that come from limitations of our interpretations.
Questions for reflection:
- List one positive and one negative evaluation you have recently had about either yourself or others.
- Transform the subjective evaluations in #1 into neutral observations by asking yourself: खासमा के भएको हो? (What really happened?)