Decoding the WHY?

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by Doug Johnson
It’s not what you said – it’s how you said it!

We have probably all heard or said this at some time in our lives. Something hurt!

Sometimes we can say the same thing to two different people and their response is the opposite. Or two different people can say the same thing to one person and get different responses.

The question is: Is it really the “how you said it”, or is there a deeper issue?

Is it possible that “how you said it” can raise the emotional stakes so high? Is there a reason behind (or underneath) the reason?

The answer is “Yes”. It is not so much how they said it, but WHY they said it.

The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted – Mahatma Gandhi

What we are really picking up, correctly or incorrectly, is the motive behind the behaviour.

Each of us has a “Motive Radar”. We continually go through an unconscious, intuitive motive decoding process.  What did they really mean? Why did they really do that?

The problem with judging other people’s motives is that it is difficult not to read them through our own perspective or wiring. We don’t necessarily do this to be judgmental, but our logic is that if we had done that then our motives would have been dubious, so if they do that then their motive is wrong.

Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people’s, if we are always criticizing trivial actions – which often are not real defects at all, but we construe them wrongly through our ignorance of their motives – Saint Teresa of Avila

Trying to interpret people’s motives is a risky business.

True story – Joan had just completed a 1-Day LEMON workshop with me. It was as if a huge weight had rolled off her shoulders. For the first time in her 9-year marriage she began to understand her husband, and she realised that he was not deliberately trying to hurt her or embarrass her. What he was doing was unacceptable behaviour, but it suddenly became easier to deal with when she was able to stop misreading his motives. She was able to go home and spend time addressing the behaviour without the emotional stakes getting raised too high.

Learning to decode the Why is one of the great worthwhile pursuits in life.