You Can’t Read Minds
It is extremely common for all of us to assume we understand how other people think. We may consciously admit that we don’t know for sure, but in order to function as human beings we do have to make certain assumptions. For example, when you a run into a longtime friend, you may assume that person is going to give you a hug or high five and not punch you in the face. But…you could be wrong. Perhaps you don’t know everything (ex. someone told your friend that you kicked her dog) or…perhaps that person doesn’t think the same way you do.
It is this second reason that I find most flummoxing and disturbing at times. The thing is, as much as we all admit that everyone think differently, we also can’t help but assume there is some base level of logical thinking that is common among us. In other words, we all may like different things and have different histories, but logic is logic. Logic is an absolute truth just like math. Each person should be able to reason through a problem in the same way if given the same facts.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
The reality is that although there is a common way that most people reason through problems at a most basic level, there are many people that are just wired differently. You can give certain people all the same facts that you have and walk them through your reasoning and logic step-by-step, but they will come to a different conclusion. This can be extremely upsetting and disturbing. It can feel like you are living in a different reality than that person because they don’t adhere to the same fundamental laws of the universe as you do.
I wish I knew how to deal with this situation. I don’t. Like most people, once I realize I can’t find common ground from a purely logical basis with someone, I can’t help but withdraw and walk away. I am not saying that is the right thing to do, but it is better than the alternative which is trying to jam your reasoning down someone else’s throat.
One last word of caution, though. When you get into this type of impasse, you should try hard to NOT assume you are the one that is “right” and the other person is “wrong”. Sometimes that may be the case, but many times upon further reflection I have realized that I was actually the one that had a flaw in my logic and reasoning.
To recap in short:
- Always try hard to understand other people
- Work with them to try and reach some common ground of reasoning and logic to build from
- Even if you can’t understand the other person’s logic, seriously consider: “What if I am actually wrong and he/she is right?”
- Finally, if you can’t find any common ground and the topic can be avoided, walk away
Of course…if you get to #4 and it is an important issue that can’t be ignored then that is a whole other issue for another blog post in the future.