During couples counseling, Bethesda MD couples have shown that one of the biggest barriers to effective communication is mind reading. Marriage counseling sessions show that, when in a relationship, mind reading occurs when one person assumes they know what their spouse is thinking or feeling and/or inadvertently attributes malicious intent to otherwise innocuous behavior. In addition, the person who is mind reading might alter his/her own behavior in response to what they believe their spouse thinks. Here are some examples of mind reading:
Steve comes home from work and doesn’t greet Rachel as he usually does. Rachel assumes that Steve is still angry with her after their argument this morning and gives him the cold shoulder the rest of the evening.
Amanda thinks that her girlfriend finds her needy and pathetic when she begins crying during their arguments. In response, she finds her partner’s attempts at kindness and understanding to be patronizing.
Or, requests for mind reading:
Jason says, “If you really knew me, you would not have invited your cousin to dinner. You know we don’t get along!”
Diana thinks, “Why doesn’t he ever help me clean up after a party? Can’t he see that I’m doing all of this by myself?”
It’s not hard to see that these ways of relating can lead to a disconnected relationship and more misunderstandings and hurt feelings. After family therapy, and couples counseling, Bethesda MD couples and families have realized healthy communication is suspended when mind reading occurs, as it is impossible to communicate effectively when there is a lack of verbal interaction!
The first step towards healthy communication is to eliminate mind reading from your life. Try to identify when you mind read the most. Is it when your spouse gets quiet and starts to withdraw? Is it always around your in-laws, or maybe when you’re feeling insecure about your work? Think twice before you speak and filter out any comments that might be influenced by what you believe versus what your spouse says/does. Ask clarifying questions: “How do you feel about that?” “What, specifically, do you mean?” “Can you explain again? I want to make sure I am understanding you fully.” Finally, apologize when you recognize mind reading after the fact: “I just assumed that you were thinking negative thoughts about me, and in response, I was rude to you. I’m sorry. Can you tell me what you were thinking when you picked up your phone during dinner?”
Do you ever mind read in relationships? What are some of your strategies to banish mind reading? Comment below!
Interested in couples counseling Bethesda MD couples trust? Call or email our office for more information, questions, or to schedule an appointment with Lindsey Hoskins and Associates!