- September 10, 2017
- Posted by: Admin
- Category: Stakeholder Engagement
Fact vs Mind Read
A statement provides a factual representation of intent. When you say, “It is two o’clock,” you expect that the information is construed to be a simple statement regarding the time. on the other hand, you might be intending to convey that this is your lunch time and you want to eat. When you state a fact, you are making a statement. However, you can rest assured that a statement of this sort will lead to mind reading about the hidden intent. Person A will decide that you are announcing lunch and will want to resume the meeting afterwards. Person B will realize that the meeting room is booked at this time and may wonder whether your statement is intended to bring this fact to memory. Person C may construe your intention to leave the office for some time and complete some personal work.
This brings out the point that a statement needs to be backed up with explanatory comments. Though there is no problem with a simple statement, when it is made, its purpose will be questioned. Almost all simple statements leave scope for implication analysis. This implication analysis is at best imperfect and at worst grossly incorrect. Therefore, you make a statement about the time and announce, “The match would have started now,” or “I think we should grab a bite quickly” curtails the conjecture about your actual purpose.
This is an important aspect of factual statements. When you are making a business presentation, you will realise that qualitative statements, descriptors or any statement that tells a story behind the facts will be listened to intently. You may try to make statements concerning the profitability of the company but if you leave it without qualifying it will have the audience wondering why the statement was brought up.
Though there can be little to debate about facts in themselves, it is necessary to realise that facts lend themselves for analysis, understanding of implication and a host of emotions, gut-feel or instinctive reactions. This is probably why we do not often come across people who tell us the state of the weather when we are experiencing it unless they plan to qualify it by explaining its impact on their health and the children’s school.
Though there is little to be done about the mind read that goes into factual statements, it must be recognised as a faulty tool. For one thing, the mind read behind the fact is accepted as an extension of the fact and seen to be the truth. People often mind read without realising they are doing it.
The tendency to mind read is palpable in personal relationships as well. John tells his wife Mary, “I will be late home tonight” and leaves the statement unqualified. The fact is that John expects to be late since there is a deadline two days hence and there is a huge backlog of work. John has taken the step of informing Mary about the likely delay since he is normally home before sundown and she always waits for him for dinner. The absence of a explanatory comment as to why there is likely to be a delay, what John plans to do for dinner and what time he is expected to return make Mary wonder what lies behind the statement. She may draw the conclusion that John believes she nags him all the time and worry about the possibility that he doesn’t like her anymore. The simple statement can lead Mary into a state of despair about losing the person she loves, about being alone and lonely all over again. It can bring back to the fore all her past fears and lead her to the conclusion that everything is over.
This feeling leads to a change in her behaviour with John, she may become more suspicious, critical and sharp tongued or it may make her more clingy, desperate for assurance and nagging. John is not likely to understand that the past statement he had made has led to this distressed situation. Mary on her part does not want John to know how much she wants the relationship to last lest she lose her dignity. Mind reading can be a misinterpretation that leads to poor communication
The statement and mind read cycle lead to a situation with neither party feeling better about the communication or the conjecture. Sometimes, people unwisely utilise this form of incomplete communication as a way to hold power in a relationship. If Mary tends to get clingy when John leaves statements incomplete, it may be a reassurance for John that she still cares about him. The couple might go through these cycles of manipulation, despair and the return of affection as a way to keep the relationship alive. The flaw in this lies in the fact that at some point the parties will grow wise and tire of this model of relationship management.
It is imperative for both parties to come clean about the statement and the assumption. John on his part must realise that making a statement and leaving it in the air is a hallmark of incomplete communication. Mary must clear her mind of the possible intentions behind the statement by clarifying what John is planning to do. Both of them must take responsibility to ensure that communication is clarified and not left open to mind reading.
The avoidance of misunderstood communication is a learned art. It involves a quick analysis of the possible impact of the statement and allows the speaker to mould effective sentences. Though a sentence may be grammatically complete, the listener’s mind will inevitably go beyond the correctness and gauge intent. At BreakState we show you how to reduce communication mishaps with incorrect mind reading of incomplete sentences that seem coherent. We help you face your internal conflicts when communicating and make your statements clearly. We lead you on to the path of effective communication.