I Know What You Are Thinking…..




As human beings, we are terrible at mind reading! So often, the assumptions we make about the other’s thoughts, motivations, feelings are really more about us than the other person. 

But the thing is, our assumptions about the motives and intentions of others are often incorrect and misguided. So our truth might not be so “truthful”.

Often we assume what our partner/children/friend is thinking without ever “checking it out”. Intellectually we all know “There are always two-sides to every story”. So why do we continue making one-sided assumptions, colored by the way we see things?

When an event occurs, rather than checking it out with the other person, we often make our own interpretation of their motives and intentions. We might think we know the person so well; the person doesn’t speak up and tell us; we want to avoid conflict; or we just don’t want to bother. This phenomenon is one of the main causes of most misunderstandings.

The hazards of being a “mind reader” are many. When we assume what the other person is feeling/thinking we respond or react based on this assumption. Our interpretation may be completely wrong, (probably 50% of the time). This dynamic is a common starting point of conflict, feelings getting hurt, misunderstandings, etc. No one likes for the other to tell them what they are feeling or thinking; implying the other knows them better than they know themselves.

 Another problem with mind reading is that often we assume the “worst”. Then our reactions based on our faulty assumptions cause things to “snowball”.

How can you communicate without assuming? By being curious and checking out your assumptions. For instance, starting the conversation:

  • “Can I ask you about something?”
  • Describing the situation: Who, where, what
  • Describe the impact it had on you, your internal experience (your interpretation)
  • Seeking clarification: “Did I get this right?” or, “Have I misread things?” “let me repeat back to you what I just heard to be sure that I have full understanding.”

Remember that our worst fears are typically unfounded or highly exaggerated.

Many times resentments and fights could be avoided by having a direct conversation with the other and asking for clarification.  As stated by Bethany Rosselit, “Curiosity is a lost art, but it is one that we need to rediscover, if we want to be successful in our work, our relationships, and in life.”

Counseling can be an excellent way to work through difficulties in communication in relationships. If you want to improve communication with your spouse, your children or at work, contact Lind Butler, MEd, LPC and set an appointment.