Central Books Level 3 Resources Richard Brodie Virus of the Mind What’s
The Communication Model
One of the "ground rules" Randy Revell uses in the 21st Century Leadership course is
to follow a "communications model" whenever appropriate during the
course. I actually extend this past the course to any conversation where
misunderstanding is a danger. I am most conscious of using this mode when I disagree
with someone's points of view.
Here is the model:
Much confusion results from blurring the line between perceptions and
interpretations. No one can disagree with the fact that I have certain
perceptions. For example: I notice you use the word "jerk." I
see you're wearing a red shirt. I smell the perfume that you're wearing.
I hear you pausing several seconds before replying to me. These are all
perceptions, very close to the source of my data about reality, made
through the use of my five senses.
- Interpretation or
judgment. This is what I personally am imagining is true based on
the data from my perceptions. I do not present it as The Truth. Instead,
I own it as my personal interpretation. For example: I judge that you
are angry. I think you aren't paying attention to what I'm saying. I
think you look fat in those pants. These are all interpretations, not
perceptions and not The Truth.
- Feelings. Do
you feel happy, sad, closer, more distant, angry, afraid? It's common
for the casual English speaker to confuse thoughts with feelings. Any
time you say "I feel that..." you are likely about to
communicate a thought, not a feeling. Avoid using "I feel" to
communicate thoughts. Use "I think," "I judge," "I
believe," or even "the story I make up around that is..."
(since that's really what you're doing anyway).
What, if any, change do I intend to create as a result of this? Much of
the time, my intention is to vindicate my own point of view rather than
to help you in any way. If this is true, be honest about it. Much of the
time, my intention is to sell you on my point of view about you. If this
is true, I consider my deeper intention. Is it to promote growth and
learning, or simply so I can be right about my point of view? If there
is no intent to help, abandon the communication.
If you're having difficulty with the difference between perception and
interpretation, bear in mind that all the right/wrong, good/bad emotion stems
from the interpretation. One great exercise to try is this: make up several
different interpretations that all fit the data you perceive. Make up
interpretations, all based on the same event or data, that result in your
- righteous indignation
- bursting with
You may soon realize that your feelings are a result of the positions you
take, not the events that happen.