STEP FOUR: Use the feedback to increase your understanding of
yourself, of the other person, and to improve the relationship.
We should be able to learn about ourselves by carefully probing
another person's views of what we are like (as distinguished from
basing our self-concept on inaccurate guesses about what he/she
thinks of us). Likewise, we can help someone else understand
him/herself better. And, with better understanding of each other, we
should be able to relate to each other better.
This emphasis on the role of our assumptions about other people
adds a new, important dimension to social interaction. We must
continuously check out the accuracy of our assumptions, however. It is
easy to misread others, sometimes our fantasy runs wild.
What are some of the changes that might occur after sharing ideas
and feelings with each other--as this method is designed to do? (1) If
you and the other person disagree about what you or he/she is like,
both of you can reserve judgment and make more observations. (2) If
you feel misunderstood, try to change the other person's experience
with you, i.e. let him/her see another side of you. (3) Try to change
your behavior. (4) Try to change the other person and/or help him/her
make desired changes. (5) Try to change your views of the other
person. (6) Become more aware of your needs and wants. Example: a
person may not need to be affectionate with his/her partner every day
but such a person may be highly invested in knowing that the partner
loves and needs him/her. This latter need may not be shown openly
(or even known to the needy one). (7) Start a campaign to be better
understood by others.
Obviously, this method of getting and giving feedback is complex.
But much more is involved than just going through these 12
statements for several topics every year or two. In daily interaction
you have to remember to check out your assumptions about the other
person's views and intentions: "What did you think I wanted?" or "You
seem to be forgetting that I need the car tonight, is that right?" or
"You seem to think that I am worrying too much about you, do I read
you correctly?" With the human mind so busy trying to read minds, it
is hard to stay in touch with the real world. Read some of Laing's
It will take several hours to discuss your relationship with one
person. You may want to do this exercise with several people.
Eventually, you will become more aware of the underlying assumptions
in all of your relationships. Some couples will want to periodically
"check out" their assumptions, but in due time this "confirming
procedure" becomes a part of your style of interacting, not a separate