The other day, I had an interaction in which there was some misinterpretation. Instead of asking me directly, the person involved assumed my intention. This assumption made the other person think that I was acting out of malice, and thus became offended.
After discovering that the person was offended during an exchange of words in relationship to the circumstance in question, I shared with the person "Hey, you know you could've just asked me what I meant or thought. It did not have to be this way"
This wasn't someone I knew personally or someone close to me, and normally I would have ignored the whole situation. However, I knew that this was not about me. There was something in the way she talked that made me want to look a little deeper. I got that she was dealing with whatever she was dealing with, and projecting it toward me. However, what my training in NLP has taught me is that there's a higher intention to every communication.
Assumptions Create False Perceptions
Whether it's fear, hurt, anger, or sadness, there's always something deeper behind a negative communication. When I reached out to this young lady who had become offended by a communication that was not even directed at her personally, I tried to understand the reason she reacted in such a negative way. It turns out she based her reaction on some other past experience that led to an unfavorable outcome.
Making assumptions without getting clarification can lead to missed opportunities. When we assume an intention we are in essence "mind reading" people. That is a very ineffective way to interact, and can not only lead to conflict, it can lead to permanently damaged relationships.
Searching for a deeper meaning
Listening without assumption is a key component of communication. Furthermore listening to our own internal reactions is just as important. Our reactions can tell us if there is something deeper and more unconscious at play in our responses. If you are triggered by a communication, before responding immediately, ask yourself "what is the source of this reaction? Is it from the past? Or is it a boundary or value violation that immediately needs addressing?" If it is the former, take a step back and further evaluate what happened in the past and if your response to the present situation is based on that past. If it is the latter, pause and collect yourself so that you can address the person who is violating the boundary or value in a way that they can hear you.
The bottom line is when both parties are willing to listen, miscommunications and misinterpretations can be prevented and solved.
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