S:0186 Distinction: Reality vs. Interpretation

(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)

 

Recently I attended an international conference for about 500 coaches. One of the breakout session speakers – Richard Rianoshek – shared a model for improving communications.

In short, when we communicate with someone there are three things going on simultaneously. First, there is the reality of the situation, the facts. Second, there is your interpretation of the facts. Third, there is my interpretation of the facts. One reality and two interpretations or opinions, plenty to chew on.

The problem is each of us has collapsed reality and our interpretation of reality into a lump. Unless we consciously chose to separate them, they are one thing, and that one thing is reality, period. That’s why your reality and my reality can be so different; they include our different interpretations. What you see is your reality. What I see is mine.

For instance, you may see someone with a big smile on their face and say that they are happy. The smile is reality and to say they are happy is an interpretation. They may be indeed be happy, but it is still just your interpretation. In fact, the person may be very sad and wearing a smile is their way of dealing with the sadness.

 

Coaching Point: During a conversation listen for what is fact and what is opinion. It will keep you focused on what is really being said and will give you information that will help you better understand.

 

Copyright 1999 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.