How Do I Know You?
You can’t tell what someone is thinking by listening to what they say.
How do we know each other? Let me count the ways. The psychological concept, “Theory of Mind”, refers to a person’s ability to create theories about others’ minds — what they may be thinking, how they may be feeling, what they might be wanting, and what they may do next. We are always making assumptions and predictions about what is going on in other people’s heads. That’s how you “know” me; and that’s how I “know” you. Some of us are better at this than others. It apparently is an exclusive human trait.
One way of knowing another person is called empathy. It is part of Theory of Mind and is defined as “identification with, and understanding of, another’s situation, feelings, motivations”. There are three kinds of empathy, according to Daniel Goleman: cognitive empathy: reading the emotional signals of others, emotional empathy: joining with the other’s feelings, and empathic concern: caring about others and wanting to help. Brain research suggests that empathy is integrated with self-awareness. In other words, we read other people (getting to know them) by tuning into ourselves (getting to know ourselves).
How well you know me depends on how well you know yourself. How well I know you depends on how well I know myself. So this blog suggests we ask ourselves:
How well do I know myself? How well do you know yourself?
How well is our empathy integrated with self-awareness?
Is what we think, say and do in harmony?
Stayed tune for more on thinking and self-awareness.