Separating Observation from Evaluation

By Michelle Malay Carter on July 30, 2008 

GavelI’m reading NonViolent Communication, A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg.? Although I am not all the way through it, I am riveted by its content.? I may share more from the book?in the future, but I wanted to start by offering some passages from the book regarding separating observation for evaluation.

“Most of us grew up speaking a language that encourages us to label, compare, demand, and to pronounce judgments rather than to be aware of what we are feeling and needing.”

“Our repertoire of words for calling people names is much larger than our vocabulary of words that allow us to clearly describe our emotional states.”

“Our judgments of others are alienated expressions of our own unmet needs.”??When others judge us, they are?inviting us to contribute to their well being by addressing their unmet needs.

“When we express our needs indirectly through the use of evaluations, interpretations, and images, others are likely to hear criticism.? And when people hear anything that sounds like criticism, the tend to invest their energy in self-defense or counter attack.? If we are wishing for a compassionate response from others, it is self-defeating to express our needs by interpreting or diagnosing their behavior.?”

“Instead, the more directly we can connect our feelings to our own needs, the easier it is for others to respond compassionately to our needs.? Unfortunately, most of us have never been taught to think ino terms of needs.? We are accustomed to thinking about what’s wrong with other people when our needs aren’t being fulfilled.”

Observing without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.?
—Indian Philosopher, J. Krishnamurti

Wow!? This is great stuff.? I know I need to work on observing without evaluating and on discovering what I am really feeling.? You?

Filed Under Accountability, Corporate Values, Personal Observation, Strategy


2 Responses to “Separating Observation from Evaluation”

  1. Evelyn on August 25th, 2008 8:29 pm

    I just finished reading Strangers to ourselves : discovering the adaptive unconscious by Timothy D. Wilson.

    One of the examples in it is of a study done at a British Columbia University. An attractive female survey taker approaches men in two different places in a park. She interviews them, and at the end of the interview says “I’m running out of time, but here’s my number, call me if you have any question about the study.” She writes her number on a corner of the survey form and tears it off and hands it to them.

    The study, of course, was to find out what proportion of guys called her, depending on what location they were in. The first location was at a bench near a little hill. The second location was in the middle of a very narrow swaying suspension bridge.

    30% of the guys on the bench called. 60% of the guys on the bridge did.

    The psychologists suggested that the ‘extra’ guys on the bridge who called confused their physiological arousal at being on the swaying bridge with attraction for the female survey taker.

    From this, I wonder, how are we supposed to know what we really feel in any situation?

  2. Michelle Malay Carter on August 26th, 2008 10:10 am

    Hi Evelyn,

    Thanks for stopping by and for sharing this study. It is interesting.

    Yes, self knowledge and self awareness are oddly difficult faculties to develop. It takes intention coupled with experience and maturity.

    Thanks for the comment.