A Coaching Power Tool created by Sherry Huang
(Life Coaching, CHINA)
If you have seen Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece movie “Rashomon”, you will understand the concept of subjectivity of perception, by which observers of an event are able to produce substantially different but equally plausible accounts of it. In the movie, a crime witnessed by four individuals is described in four mutually contradictory ways. Who is telling the truth? What is truth? The point is, each of them is reconstructing the truth from their own eyes and most importantly, from their own perspectives to serve their own purposes. In our daily lives, every event can be interpreted into different meanings depending on who views it. It is not the event itself, but the meaning we attached to it will affect the quality of our lives.
When something happens to us, we see it and hear it from our filters, then immediately attach a meaning to it. On the surface, this process seems quite automatic. In fact, it only seems automatic because we have been well trained or conditioned to behave in this pattern throughout our lives. If we analyze it, we can actually separate the process to be “Observation” and “Evaluation”. Being able to separate the two is an important skill a coach needs to have.
Definitions of Observation and Evaluation
Oxford Dictionary gave us the following definition of Observation and Evaluation:
- the action or process of closely observing or monitoring something or someone: she was brought into hospital for observation, or the ability to notice things, especially significant details: his powers of observation
- a statement based on something one has seen, heard, or noticed: he made a telling observation about Hughie
- the making of a judgment about the amount, number, or value of something; assessment:
As one can see, an observation is what we experience directly with our senses. What we hear, smell, touch and taste. An observation contains “just the facts”; the act of evaluating engages our mind in interpreting what we are observing and produces a judgement. Observation is objective; evaluation is subjective.
Separating observation from evaluation
The Indian Philosopher J. Krishnamurti once remarked that observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence. In Dr. Marshall Rosenberg’s book “Nonviolent Communication”, he suggested using observations without evaluation as a way to effectively communicate with other people.
For most of us, it is difficult to make observations, especially of people and their behaviour, that free of judgement, criticism, or other forms of analysis.
We tend to mix observation and evaluation in our daily communications. For example, does the following sound familiar?
- My son likes to procrastinate.
- Old people are slow drivers
- My staffs seldom do what I want.