Experiences from the past determine our way of thinking.
What happens to others, we tend to interpret from our personal frame of reference. We draw parallels with what we believe or have experienced ourselves. We often assume we know what goes on in other people’s minds, what they mean, what they feel, how they could best be helped.
Parents can be quick to judge what’s going on in their children. Managers can be quick to judge the actions of their colleagues. People from a particular culture can be quick to judge the characteristics of another culture. But assuming that we know what someone else is thinking or feeling can easily get us into trouble.
Rather than assuming we know someone else’s experience, we could shift our perceptions into questions. Instead of saying, ‘I know you’re hurting,’ we could ask, ‘What do you feel?’ This allows us to connect with the other with no risk of misunderstandings. And what is more, it broadens our perspective, adds to our experiences and reawakens our sense of wonder.