It’s Pretty Hard to Learn Something and Talk at the Same Time.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life is that I have a lot to learn. It doesn’t matter what the topic is. Even if I am strongly versed in a subject area, I know that there is still likely more about that subject that I don’t know, than that I do know.
This is the truest when it comes to interacting with people. To address the original question…NO. You are not a mind-reader and I am not a mind-reader. Yet it seems we are surrounded by people who tend to think they know what is best for someone else, myself included.
Certainly, there are some universal truths. It’s not wise for anyone to stick a metal fork into an electrical socket. Your body needs to be moved consistently throughout your life or it will lose the ability to do so more quickly. If you don’t consume quality nutrients on a consistent basis your body will begin to break down. If you don’t get any water for a period of time you will die.
When it comes to people there are a few of these too, that do not require you to be a mind reader to know. Everyone wants to feel like they matter. Everyone wants to be loved. Things like this. After these things? We mostly have little idea about someone’s true state of being. This is why two simple things are essential to having productive and peaceful interactions with our fellow man/woman. Listening and asking questions.
Questions are the Answer…
Every human being you encounter, in any setting, is operating from their own lens. Their lens is made up of two sets of factors. Their static lens and their variable lens. The static lens is like the hardware. It is the base perspective that has developed through their entire path of life. It is established through all their experiences, knowledge, culture, and how they have been influenced through society as a whole.
This hardware is difficult to change as it is deeply rooted and is a starting point for how they are perceiving everything. It can be shifted over time by self-awareness and purposeful work. And it is crucial to do this because this drives how someone reacts to input because it calls on this treasure chest of information that is connected together by strings of assumptions (how we store and access info).
You say something to someone and their mind goes through a lightening quick set of connections that produce the impulse of how to respond.
The way they respond in particular in that moment is then impacted by their variable lens, which is essentially how they are experiencing life in the current moment. This is highly changeable from moment to moment and day to day as it is influenced by how someone feels physically, their emotions, the state of their most important relationships, their quality of life, etc.
The only way to limit the highly possible negative impact of this reality is to ask questions instead of simply saying what you think.
This is YOU too…
The Proverb says “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.”
To make this proverb clear for this purpose, I would add the word “TRULY” as in “truly hears it. And this is the point of this article. We often answer the thing WE hear. Yet, because we are operating from OUR lens and interacting with someone who is speaking from THEIR lens, what we hear and what they actually are saying are typically NOT the same thing. I call this the “communication gap.”
This means that most of the time we are speaking (responding or reacting) based on ASSUMPTION.
This is the fundamental reason for a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding in all relationships, and a huge reason for productivity problems in the business world.
The Secret to Eliminating This Issue is an Open-ended Question
Open-ended questions are questions that create space for the other person to further expand on what they just said, so that you can get to a deeper understanding.
These come in the form of questions that start with What, How, and Why. In the video below I talk about my favorite form of open question (clarifying question) that helps me to completely close the “gap” between what someone is saying and what I think they are saying, to the point where I know exactly what they are saying and making no assumption.
This kind of question has to come from a place of being other’s centered. You have to ask with an open-mind and forget whatever dialogue your brain is having, and move past whatever emotional reaction you had to what you perceived. It requires you to take a breath, not answer back to what they said, and instead ask an open-ended question to get to understanding. You never want to answer a matter until you know what that matter is.
In my book “3 Circles Living” I give you this exact formula. By taking this simple step, you show someone you truly care about what they are saying. This shows respect and open-mindedness, as well as human consideration. Learning how to use questions properly is a significant interpersonal competency, that will make you much more effective in business regardless of what the business is, and it will help your personal relationships flourish.
You will dramatically reduce conflict in every area of life, massively increase the amount of peace you experience, and help to increase your income, among many other benefits.
I hope you found this helpful. Please share with others if you believe they would benefit.
Here is a recent video on How to Design an Awesome Life
Many Blessings, Todd
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