„The band was way too loud man, I am totally deaf!“ – „I don’t think so, I think they could have really cranked it up a few notches!”
People observe, perceive and evaluate what they observe and perceive. This is a completely natural process that gives us orientation in our world and helps us to decide on our actions. In our daily communication we happily throw together our perceptions with our evaluations. We hardly realize when our observations are laced with our evaluations. We think our evaluation IS the observation.
Things get problematic when there’s a conflict. If I burst out with my observation-evaluation-medley and tell you „you never call, you’re not interested in my life at all!“ you are very likely to hear criticism. Such a medley often provokes justifications and counter-attacks: „Not true! I called you like all the time and you never picked up the phone!“
(Also, you probably aren’t very likely to joyously call more often henceforth, when I choose to get your attention in the aforementioned way…..;-))
In our example a pure observation could sound something like „we haven’t talked on the phone in the past four weeks.“ An observation is a proper observation when it is indisputable and simply states what happened (or didn’t happen for that matter). It helps to imagine what a camera or microphone would have recorded (or not recorded). And once I combine my observation with my feelings and needs and end on a request the chance for connection to happen between you and me will rise significantly.
„We haven’t talked on the phone at all last month. I am really sad about that because I really like to have regular contact with you. What is your feeling about that?”