Observations Separate from Evaluation

How to distinguish pure observation from one mixed with judgments/evaluations

ob•ser•va•tion (dictionary.com)

[ob-zur-vey-shuhn] Show IPA
1.an act or instance of noticing or perceiving.
2.an act or instance of regarding attentively or watching.
3.the faculty or habit of observing or noticing.
4.notice: to escape a person's observation.
5.an act or instance of viewing or noting a fact or occurrencefor some scientific or other special purpose: the observationof blood pressure under stress.

Observation (NVC): To clearly observe what we are seeing, hearing, or touching that is affecting our sense of well-being without mixing in any evaluations. Observations are specific to time and context.

To see if you are aware of making evaluations with your eyes test yourself on some optical illusions.

Why should we care about observations? If our purpose is to connect with the other person we are much more likely to create connection if we can observe without mixing it with evaluations. First is that it affects our attitude. If we are seeing someone with judgmental eyes or ears this will color everything we do in regard to this person. Just picture how you feel when you realize you are being judged. Secondly if you are on the receiving end of judgmental words, do you want to connect with that person or get the interaction over as quickly as possible?

Keys to Noticing Evaluations Mixed with Observation

1. Use of verb to be without indication that the evaluator takes responsibility for the evaluation

Mixed: You are too picky.

Separate: When I see you read labels on food packages before you eat from them, I am thinking you are too picky.

2. Use of verbs with evaluative connotations

Mixed: My aunt complains.

Separate: My aunt called last night and talked about how much pain she is in for a half hour.

3. Implication that one's inferences about another person's thoughts, feelings, intentions, or desires are the only ones possible

Mixed: He'll never finish his project.

Separate: I don't think he will finish his project.

4. Confusion of prediction with certainty

Mixed: If you don't get a flu shot you will get the flu.

Separate: If you don't get a flu shot I'm worried you'll catch the flu.

5. Failure to be specific about referents

Mixed: Men don't share their feelings.

Separate: I don't recall my husband ever sharing his feelings with me.

6. Use of words denoting ability without indicating that an evaluation is being made

Mixed: She is a poor secretary.

Separate: She typed twenty words per minute on her typing test with five errors.

7. Use of adverbs and adjectives in ways that do not indicate an evaluation has been made

Mixed: Sally is annoying.

Separate: When Sally taps on the table during meetings, I feel annoyed. (This includes expressing feelings to provide clarity)

Be careful of using words such as always, never, ever, whenever, etc. These can be part of a neutral observation but are sometimes used as an exaggerations. You are always late would most likely be an exaggeration. Saying it without evaluation would sound like this; every meeting I can remember you coming to, I remember you arriving late. Words like frequently or seldom can contribute to an observation sounding like it is free from evaluation when it is not.

Observations Mixed with Evaluation Observations Free of Evaluation:
The telemarketer was rude calling at 5:30 AM on a Saturday
Gary would not let Paul finish a sentence or Gary kept interrupting Paul
My spouse complained about me not helping enough.
You were lazy and left the dishes you promised to do in the sink.
You seldom pick up after yourself.

Where to go from here? Check out your ability to make unbiased observations visually by checking out some optical illusions. Test your ability to recognize neutral observations and observations mixed with evaluations and judgments with the observation challenge. After observations, the next component is Emotions/Feelings.

Path Blocked

Does your path seem blocked?

Are you feeling frustrated by life's obstacles? Find solutions that open doors and turn frustration into the joy of taking on a challenge. Learn a new way to view conflict.

Go around obstacle

Obstacles don't stop everyone.

As you can see by the picture, on the weekend when the construction crews are not there, the trail still gets used. Learn how to work with others to transform problems to solutions.

Toupee Duck

Self judgment - a big obstacle

The duck at the top of the picture looks like he has a bad haircut or toupee. It doesn't bother him. Learn how to accept yourself, as you are. Sign up for training or coaching.