Separate observation from evaluation.
The Indian philosopher KrishnaMurti once remarked, "observing, without evaluating, is the highest form of human intelligence."
It is difficult to make observations, especially of people and their behavior, that are free of judgment, criticism, or other forms of analysis.
What is this person doing the conflicts with your needs? (that is observation.)
Inferring (guessing, assuming, mind reading) what another person is thinking is not the same as observing behavior.
When you have an issue try this: create a list identifying specific behaviors that bother you and make sure that the list is free of evaluation and judgment and criticism -that it was just observation.
Here are some hints for knowing when you are evaluating:
- Use of the verb "to be" without indicating that the evaluator takes responsibility for the evaluation.
- Use of a verb with evaluative connotation (Doug procrastinates).
- Implication that one's inferences about another person's thoughts, feelings, intentions or desires are the only ones possible.
- Confusion of prediction (guess, hypothesis) with certainty.
- Failure to be specific about that to whom you were referring to ("immigrants don't take care of their property" vs. "I have not seen the immigrant family in that house shovel snow from their front walk").
- Use of words denoting ability without indicating that an evaluation is being made ("he's a poor Soccer player" vs "he hasn't scored a goal in 20 games").
- Use of adverbs and adjectives in ways that do not indicate an evaluation has been made ("Jim is ugly" vs "Jim's looks don't appeal to me").
In other words not taking responsibility for what you just said.
See pp 34-35 for exercise training to distinguish between observation and evaluation
I so thoroughly enjoy and appreciate his perspective. It is simply transformative in counseling sessions with couples who are struggling!