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Data, Judgments, Feelings and Wants: A Path toward Clarity

I was talking with some colleagues this morning about recognizing and resolving misunderstandings and [other] conflicts. I mentioned a few different perspectives and processes that I've used, and sent along some references. I've blogged about two of them before: the four agreements and love and logic. I was surprised to discover I'd never blogged about a third process, nor could I discover any other references for it on the web. It is the clearing process I learned as part of the Mankind Project.

The core of the process is distinguishing between data, judgments, feelings and wants, and recognizing that each person is simply a mirror for me (and I am simply a mirror for others). When I feel a "charge" about something that someone has said (or not said) or done (or not done), I can clear that charge by recognizing, articulating and processing four dimensions of the energy I'm feeling about the [in]action:

  • Data: what are the observable facts involved in the situation: things that have been said or done (or not said or not done), by me or the other person(s)?
  • Judgments: what inferences do I draw from those data, e.g., how do I judge the other(s), and/or how do I judge that he/she/they judge me?
  • Feelings: how do I feel about those judgments and data, i.e., glad, sad, mad or afraid?
  • Wants: given these feelings, judgments and data, what is it I really want (for myself)?

Learning how to distinguish effectively between data and judgments is a challenging (and ongoing) process. I often think of negative judgments such as "you don't respect me" or "you don't take me seriously" as data, but increasingly recognize them as judgments. Getting clear about the actual feelings is also challenging, as the surface level anger I sometimes feel is often a mask for fear. Early on, my wants often revolved around what I wanted from another person (e.g., "I want you to love me") and it is only with persistent practice that I can better realize the value of focusing on wants for myself ("I want to love myself ... regardless of whether I judge that anyone else loves me").

I've omitted a step from the list above, in which I may reflect on how the charge I feel is really about me (radical personal responsibility), and [when appropriate] to go back to the first time I felt the feelings and judgments that are creating the charge. This often occurs between the feelings and wants steps, but I can't think of a good one-word description for this step. It typically results in yet another example of "lessons are repeated as often as necessary".

The framework is powerful, and I've often applied it outside of MKP contexts. I was surprised that googling for "data judgments feelings wants" did not turn up anything I recognized as relevant to MKP (and hope that I'm not violating some principle in revealing the process here). However, the search turned up some interesting items, e.g.,

The Four Preferences: Do we rely on our five senses and want concrete, practical data to work with? ... Most decisions involve some Thinking and some Feeling. ...

ISTJ Personal Growth: An ISTJ's feeling of success depends upon being able to use their ... Their hyper-vigilant judgments about the rationality and competence of others may be a ...

As I've noted before, I'm an ENFP ... and although I haven't noted it before, my wife, Amy, is an ISTJ, and so this google-based serendipitous discovery of potential differences in perspectives regarding judgments, feelings and wants is rather illuminating (in my judgment).

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