Why mind reading is a relationship buster

Your assumptions create a disconnect with others

Are you mind reading when trying to connect with other people in your life? This happens when you believe you know what another person is thinking or feeling without direct communication from that person. 

Mind reading wreaks havoc in relationships at work and at home. We take in information from our environment, then we filter the data through our assumptions and conclusions, fueling our beliefs, and ultimately, our actions. Harvard professor Chris Argyris refers to this process as the “Ladder of Inference”, a conclusion reached based on evidence and reasoning. The blocks in this process lie in missing pieces of vital information which, when recovered, provide a fuller model of reality. 

Mind reading flows from our desire to connect, yet too often, it creates disconnect, because those essential pieces of information are missing. Mind reading is similar to the story of the three blind men describing a different part of an elephant. In and of themselves, the descriptions hold truth, yet the totality of the situation (the entire elephant experience) is highly compromised to each perspective.

How do we recover those missing pieces of information? Through a process of reflection, advocacy and inquiry.  Reflection: thinking about what we are thinking about; advocacy: making our reasoning visible to the person we are communicating with; and inquiry: asking the person we are communicating with questions for clarity. All of these provide us with the opportunity to recover accurate data which creates a fuller model of reality. 

 If you act on assumptions rather than information, as is the case in mind reading, you take valuable information for granted and often time create a disconnect. Mind reading is also a desirable choice of response in relationships when we want to avoid confrontation. Many times, when we are spun by the actions of other people, it is fueled by more assumption than fact. 

If you're wondering why someone says or does something, then ask for clarity rather than assuming you know why they did what they did, or said what they said. Clarity of focus leads to accuracy of response every time. 

Their response may not make sense with your model of the world, but it will give you the opportunity to see things from another person's life experience and create transparent communication. 

Don't forget, your greatest teachers in this life are often times those who push your buttons. Replace the assumptions and expectations with curiosity and fascination: Hmmm, that's interesting I wonder what they are thinking about that or why they made that choice of response? When in doubt, ask for clarity. When you ask, increase your confidence in your ability to be able to handle successfully what might be uncovered. Every relationship is filled with numerous small lessons and invitations for growth and learning.

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