Una's Blog

24
Feb

79 Mind reading much?

graphic-2by Una Hearne.

So many people still assume that everyone that other people experience life in much the same way they do, thinks like they do, and feels the same as they do. Couldn’t be more wrong really.

We each sense, interpret and experience the world in a completely unique way. When other people say or do something in a way we wouldn’t have, we are shocked! They appear to be some kind of alien. “How can you say that?” “Why would anyone do that?” I am very fond of saying ‘Other people are aliens. And. That’s. Ok’. (Ok that they are aliens and that I keep saying it!) Relax, you are an alien to them too, it’s all fine.

When we assume that others think and feel as we do we make huge assumptions about what they are thinking. We act as if we are expert mind readers. In fact, we’re terrible mind readers. Frequently, when we engage our mouths in reply to what we thought we heard, misunderstandings occur. Much comedy is based on this. Much tragedy also.

Most of the time an approximate understanding of each other serves us perfectly well. In those times when we need to be sure we understand each other, the solution is remarkably simple. Assume nothing. Ask them to explain. Feedback what you heard to check you have it. When understanding matters – make a bigger effort.

When you know someone really well and can usually understand them, it is very easy to actually stop communicating. Marriages are a great example of this. Conversations fall into patterns, attention is divided or absent and somehow connection and understanding drift. Sustaining really connected relationships requires checking in properly sometimes, finding out where the other person is really at, right now. Really communicating. Risky of course, but essential for true connection.

The flip side of assuming you know what another person is thinking, is expecting them to know what you are thinking. Expecting others to be mind readers. It’s lovely when  someone does know you well enough to anticipate you or demonstrate real care and understanding, but expecting this is unreasonable. Good communication is listening well to others and expressing your truth appropriately.

I heard it put very well by Ruth Monahan, owner of Appassionata flowers at the National Women’s Enterprise Day in 2015, proving it applies as much to work relationships as to personal. “You can’t run a telepathic organisation. A thought in your head is not a reason for someone to do something”.

Love that. Tell the other aliens what you want and ask them sincerely what they want, assume nothing and you will reach understanding far more quickly.

 

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