Are you passionate about your beliefs? When you are expressing your thoughts do you believe what you say is true? Do you think that when you speak, others ‘should’ listen or at the very least consider the value of what you are saying? Are the majority of your thoughts, opinions, evaluations, judgments and conclusions accurate? Obviously your answer is most likely “yes!,” but, consider this… so does everyone else… and where does that leave you?
Reality, you might think, leaves nothing to the imagination as it is pure fact. The human mind, however, does not deal well in pure fact and is always making things up and playing tricks on us. We are pattern-seeking animals and are always ‘joining the dots’ between pieces of knowledge, usually without knowing it.
Here is a startling reality. It’s estimated that, in the best of circumstances, 50% of the time opinions and evaluations may be accurate and 50% of the time they could be inaccurate. In situations when communication is a subjective interpretation of facts, based more on imagination, and especially when there is a lack of rapport or you are communicating from anger, your ability to move others to your perception or world view drops to around 20%. That statistic seems to hold true for most everyone and there is a reason why.
When communication is fact based only, say for example the temperature, the date of a specific holiday, the cost of an item, anything that is objectively observable, then your statement is probably close to 100% accurate. It’s correct because it can be objectively verified. So in simple terms it’s fact not fiction.
When your communication stems from the interpretation of experience and imagination comes into play, your ‘correctness’ – the amount of time you are right – drops considerably. That is a real problem because what you say can easily be perceived as fictitious.
Essentially most people think that their opinions, thoughts, evaluations, judgments and conclusions are facts and they act and speak accordingly. They can’t tell the difference between fact and what is imagination.
In NLP you learn to differentiate between fact (sensory based) and what is imagination (non-sensory based/interpretation) and the results you create in both your personal and professional life leap to a new level of excellence. In all important respects, you can single handedly avoid and resolve a lot of issues by how you communicate fact versus what you imagine the facts to mean.
Because your thought process happens so quickly, you observe and judge with lightning speed. Secondly, your perceptions are always colored by beliefs, bias and prejudice, in other words your “mental map of reality”. That “map” triggers judgment, which may or may not be true. Your brain is both your asset and your liability, because what you see you believe.
So, it seems logical that you could be a better communicator and eliminate a lot of problems if you were effective at asking the right questions. After all, isn’t eliciting good feedback one of the keys to understanding? If you are seeing through the filter of, “I’m right and you’re wrong” this right/wrong filter can work against you in an extremely unhelpful way. When anyone communicates from the point of view (the filter) that they are right, they mostly see evidence that confirms their belief. That’s why bias, prejudice and labels are destructive, often prohibiting us from seeing the facts, transporting us into our subjective world of imagination.
Now the useful question “What positive actions and mindset can you choose that will act as a buffer to erroneous judgments, wrong conclusions and poor communication.
First, you can listen for and verify the facts. That’s easy once you understand and accept that your opinions are not facts but opinions and the workings of your imagination. Secondly, you have to really understand and accept that you might just be wrong. When you have this mindset, what you are right about will be better conveyed. In addition, the more motivated you will be to check the facts.
When you come from the mindset that you might be wrong, you will be less defensive in your communication and you will elicit, listen to and be grateful for constructive feedback.
Remember that you do teach people how to treat you. Defensiveness stops good feedback and you train people not to give you feedback.
Here are four tips that will help you check your imagination:
1) Proactively listen and verify what you hear.
2) Make sure you are clear on what others expect of you. If there is a problem, handle it up front and ask for what evidence is expected to avoid it from becoming an issue.
3) Proactively ask questions that tell you what you can do to make any situation better.
i.e., “How would you rate my job or relationships on a scale of 1-10? If you don’t get a 10, ask “What would it take to make it a 10?”
4) When there is an issue with someone not keeping his or her agreement, you want to be sure it is clear as to what was promised and what has actually happened. When a problem arises say, “Help me understand how this happened.”
Discipline yourself to examine your imagination. Ask yourself: ‘fact or imagination’ – and you will take a quantum leap in the quality of your communication and your relationships.