Directions: Sit comfortably in a chair and follow the instructions below. Then answer the follow-on questions:
1. Make a picture in your mind’s eye of having dinner with just one other person at a table. Do you see just the other person? Do you see the two of you?
2. If you just see one person (Self), mentally take yourself ‘up to the ceiling’ (Observer) and look down at the table so you see the two of you.
3. If you start off on the ceiling looking down (Observer) and see the two of you, mentally move yourself down to the table (Self) sitting across from your CP, and see just your CP.
4. Practice this a few times: go up onto the ceiling and see two people; come down to the table and just see your CP. Got it? Two different vantage points.
From the ceiling, you will notice a larger range of options, free of personal, ego-related belief issues, habitual defenses, bias, triggers, and assumptions. Your triggers will be gone; you’ll hear what your CP intends to convey – both message and metamessage - without misinterpretation; you’ll hear fewer words and understand less of the story line. I call this dispassionate viewpoint Observer. You’ll notice
· the flow of communication and presence or absence of rapport between you and your CP and where there seems to be a disconnect?
· fewer words and less of the specifics in the story?
· communication gaps, assumptions, lossyness?
· possible intervention points, where new behavioral choices would be beneficial?
· any discomfort, confusion or annoyance present between you without the emotions?
Now go back down to your side of the table where you can only see your CP. Notice your own absence: you don’t hear your own dialogue nor see your part in creating or maintaining the argument; you’ll hear an Internal Dialogue that reacts and defends your status quo. I call this position of limited, instinctual choice Self. From Self, from your side of the table, you’ll notice
· your feelings that the CPs dialogue is annoying/disrespectful/stupid/wrong etc.?
· your CP sitting forward, speaking quickly with a deep voice, gesticulating,
· your CP is judging you and doesn’t understand you,
· lots of words coming from your CP that blame you for stuff.
The difference between being negatively triggered by unconscious beliefs and emotions (Self) and in neutral without any triggers (Observer) is choice. In Self you are operating habitually, automatically, and defensively to maintain your identity, with a limited range of behaviors determined by your subjective reactions that maintain your status quo at all costs. In Observer you are in neutral and can dispassionately choose the best response from among your range of communication behaviors. You will notice when something isn’t working, notice what you have misheard, and choose how to better respond. Observer offers the skill to supersede the unconscious and habitual belief àbehavior connection and
· reweight the hierarchy of your criteria
· supersede your subjective reactions
You’ll have a remote vantage point that highlights the full range of successful communication behaviors so you can choose the most appropriate one for that conversation. It’s a dispassionate view – a stepping back from the communication and watching it as if it were a movie or looking through a telescope - to see each element as if you were a scientist.
5. Now, let’s add a wrinkle. Let’s pretend you and your CP are having an argument. Really hear the argument from both vantage points – Self and Observer. Let it go on for a while, with plenty of dialogue and possibly some of the feelings that go along with a fight.