Much of what happens in human interactions exists inside our own heads and hearts – it’s private, unheard and unseen by my communication partner.
The only thing that the other person knows is my action: my words, tone, body language… What they can not see are my personal, private motivations, my intentions, my reasons for saying what I said or doing that thing that I did.
At the same time, just as my intentions are privately held and unknown to you, the ways in which you are making meaning from my actions, the way my words land with you, and the impact that they are having on you is equally private – happening inside your head and heart.
The reality is that we tend to interpret the privately held intentions of the other person based on the privately experienced effect of their actions on us (which may or may not be accurate). And all this happens through the filters of our past relationship and experiences.
We treat these interpretations/assumptions like they are facts.
This happens all the time in communication.
And it happens in milliseconds.
+ Slow down the conversation. (Pause. Breathe.)
+ Get curious. (Even if you don’t feel like it!)
+ Seek first to understand (then be understood).
+ Repeat. (For the rest of your life.)