26 Mar You Can’t Read Minds – 2 Simple Steps To Stronger Communication
“If you could read my mind, love, what a tale my thoughts would tell.” ~Gordon Lightfoot
You are sitting across the table in a meeting, and you watch a colleague stare off into space. The discussion in the room is passionate. Different viewpoints are being expressed, and there is a lot of disagreement. You say something, and then you watch your colleague get a look on her face that, to you, looks like disgust. This is the one person you thought would always have your back. The meeting adjourns with no resolution, and everyone leaves. What do you do about your friend?
You are sitting across the dining room table from your spouse. Neither of you are talking, and you are wondering if he is mad about something. You start replaying the day to see what you might have done to make him mad. How do you approach your spouse?
Your best friend sends you a text saying “I CAN’T MAKE IT TONIGHT”. What are your first thoughts?
These kinds of scenarios play out every day for all of us. The question is, what do we do when they happen? In most cases, we become professional mind readers. We decide we know exactly what the other person is thinking in that moment. Then we act (or REACT) from that space. We write a story about what is going on in the other person’s head. It often gets us in trouble and causes us unnecessary stress, yet that doesn’t stop us from doing it over and over.
STOP BEING A MIND READER
Let’s look at the text from your friend. Which of these do we know is true from this text?
a. Your friend is mad at you, so doesn’t want to join you tonight.
b. That something came up that prevents your friend from joining you.
c. Your friend doesn’t want to be with you.
d. Your friend won’t be joining you tonight.
“D” is the only thing we know to be absolutely true in this moment. Every other answer is a mind read. You are reading someone else’s mind, and creating a story about the context of that text message. The words are simple and clear. It’s the meaning behind them that is unclear.
START ASKING WHAT’S ON THEIR MINDS
As soon as we start mind reading, we are going to run into challenges. First, for ourselves, because most of us write negative stories about what we think the other person means. Be honest with yourself, and think about how often you’ve made up a story about what you thought was happening only to find you weren’t even close. It happens all the time.
Second, it can damage the relationship because we often believe our made-up story to be true. We react as if it’s true, and say things that didn’t need to be said.
A good leader (at work, home, with friends) will ask someone what’s on their mind instead of thinking they know. It really is that simple! Yet, it’s a step that many of us fail to take on a regular basis.
Last week we did a High5 LIVE! on Becoming a More Conscious Communicator and dove into this topic along with some other effective communication topics. If you missed it you can watch it here. (It’s valuable information that will save you a lot of angst.)
Effective communication is a critical leadership skill, and one that we get to practice daily. The first thing to do is to become aware of when you are mind reading. When you realize you are telling yourself a story about someone else, ask yourself the following question. Can I know this to be 100% true or is it a mind read? If it’s a mind read, seek clarification, and then respond. You are 100% in control of how you show up in your relationships. Leadership is a practice, not a position.
Our advanced class, High5 Evolve explores more advanced communication techniques, along with strategies to create amazing relationships with everyone in your life, starting with yourself. When you take the time to align your body, heart, mind and soul, you will experience a new level of JOY!