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  • Arvind R.

Weapon of Choice

"Each one of us sees the world through a mental filter, which colors our communication"

During a recent phone call with a friend, I was coaching and mentoring him to deal with a situation involving another colleague. The crux of the call was, my friend was unable to let go or give up, a character judgement that he had about his colleague. This was straining the relationship and thereby impacting a healthy working environment.

My wife who knew my friend, enquired on his well-being. I shared the gist of the issue and specifically the part about letting go. She was able to relate with the issue of my friend and agreed that she faced mental filters too on a day to day basis and understood that it was not helping her make constructive conversations or sound decisions with the people she was dealing with.

However she went on to say, “while I understand that mental filters are not healthy attributes to have and that they may distort relationship between two people. They are coming up from important life lessons learnt over the years. They act as a defense mechanism to make the right judgements at the right time so that I don’t make the same mistakes again…so why should I be letting go or giving them up?”. This was a very valid question!

I responded by explaining that her understanding of how it helps as a defense mechanism is true, but what makes the difference is that we do not have to show it all the time, I said “the mental filters are like our weapon!”

I went on to share this analogy, imagine that we are holding a pointed object in our hands while talking to someone. We are just holding it, it is facing away, we are not using it. The conversation has nothing do with the object but we are engrossed in what we are sharing unconscious of the object in our hands. But the person standing in front of us is never going to pay attention to us or what we have to say, the meaning or intent would never be heard. The gleaming object will be the center of their attention and it would only make them feel scared, uncomfortable and be on the defensive.

Similar to that are our assumptions, perceptions, judgements. They show up like a weapon in the way we speak to others. You believe that you are communicating with a lot more openness, intent and care when you interact with someone. You are showing commitment to create an amicable environment, but our mental filters are showing up unconsciously and this stops anyone from being open and true with us. The impact of this are clouds of doubt that form between each other, sometimes even forever!

Mind you! that the person standing opposite to you are also carrying similar ‘weapons’. We end up mirroring each other every time. The more we talk waving our hand near our holster, the more their hands would go closer to theirs.

In summary, it was about bringing this metaphor of a weapon whenever we deal with each other in any environment. We need to be self-aware of the genuine openness that we are bringing out to create that space of trust with each other devoid of these unconscious weapons. These are like the 'micro behaviors' explained by psychologists in popular topics like Unconscious Bias.

On a lighter note, esp. in corporate world, almost all times we have seen people walking around with such ‘weapons’. It even shows up openly a few times that sometimes it creates a scene straight out of a cowboy movie!

The time has come for us to create an authentic 'open mind' in all our interactions, as our weapon of choice.

Arvind R. is the Co Founder and Leadership Coach (ICF PCC Certified) at IPause Consultants


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