Reading Into Things

  • Cinergy Coaching by Cinnie Noble

    It’s not a straightforward exercise to figure out from where and how our assumptions come to us. Life experience, family, friends, teachers, observations, gossip, others’ tales, and a wide range of variables have an impact on our thinking. How we interpret peoples’ words, actions, behaviours, attitudes, etc. leads us to act and react in ways that are based on our assumptions – not necessarily on what is actually intended. Conflict can easily arise from erroneous perceptions and misinterpretations. Unexplored attributions are antithetical to any effort to master conflict responses.
    Sometimes what we read into a statement or action may differ depending on the person. That is, we may overlook, make excuses for, or smile at something done or said by a dear friend and not make negative assumptions about his or her motives. Whereas, we may read ill intent into the same statement or action by someone we don’t know or like for some reason.
    This aspect of conflict mastery, like others, has many layers to it and this blog provides an opportunity to examine any tendency to attribute motives to others that they may not own. To answer this week’s questions, consider a situation in which you are interpreting someone’s words or actions in negative ways:

    • What did the person say or do (or not say or do) that bothers you?
    • What bothers you most about that and why?
    • What did you ‘read’ about his or her intent?
    • What tone did you ‘hear’ in his or her actions/words?
    • What is the explanation he or she may provide if not what you are thinking?
    • What words describe the impact on you of his or her actions or words?
    • If he or she intended to cause that impact on you, why would that be the case?
    • What reason(s) do you do or say that sort of thing, if you do?
    • What do you think would surprise him or her most about what you have read into the situation and about him or her?
    • How may you check out your interpretation so you can be clear on what happened?
      What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

    Cinnie Noble

    Cinnie Noble is a certified coach (PCC) and mediator and a former lawyer specializing in conflict management coaching. She is the author of two coaching books: Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY™ Model and Conflict Mastery: Questions to Guide You. MORE >

  • Featured Mediators

    View all

    Read these next


    Increased Complexity of Commercial Disputes Requires a New Approach

    The cost of commercial litigation continues to rise, as a highly politicized world produces pervasive economic and policy uncertainty.  As these global and domestic litigation costs continue to rise, companies...

    By Jonathan Ewing, Robert Bergman

    Medicaid Cuts Will Strain Hospital – Physician Relations

    From Rich Webb's Healthcare Neutral ADR Blog.      Kevin Sack wrote earlier this week in The New York Times about the effect Medicaid cuts are having on patients throughout the...

    By Richard J. Webb

    The Quantum Manager vs. the Machiavellian Manager – The Demise of the Bureaucratic Management System

    There seems to be great appeal at the present time, for consultants and organizational behavior specialists to advocate a "holistic" approach to management. Yet, there is not only humor, but...

    By Jon Linden

    Find a Mediator