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How to avoid misunderstanding? (Explaining three perceptual positions in NLP)

Is there a way to avoid misunderstanding? When do we have misunderstanding? Why do not we sometimes understand the others? In this article, we teach the ways to avoid misunderstanding by using three perceptual positions.

How to avoid misunderstanding?

To avoid misunderstanding, we have to pay attention to the point that how we receive and interpret each incident. In fact, every human has two visual systems. One of them receives information and the other one interprets it. From NLP view, preferred channels are the ways for receiving information. That is, visual, auditory, and touch channels. To read more about preferred channels, you can read this article: What is the preferred channel? And how can we achieve effective communication by using it? “
So the type of receiving information about an incident depends on our preferred channel. That is why different people have different perceptions about an incident. Since we are not aware of all aspects of an incident, there are some blind spots about different issues inside our view. These blind spots leads to misunderstanding.
Although there may be a misunderstanding because of different perceptions and some blind spots in the views, but it can be avoided. To avoid misunderstanding, we have to concentrate on the visual system that interprets the received information. In fact, we should try to make the blind spots clear while interpreting the information. So, to avoid misunderstandings, we must look for some solutions to eliminate these blind spots.

How can we eliminate the blind spots in our view?

We give you an example to explain how we can eliminate the blind spots in our view. Suppose there was a car accident and 3 people have witnessed this crash. Each of them saw the accident from the different angle. For example, one person in front, one on the left and one on the right. Now these three people may have some disagreements about the cause of this accident. What is the cause of this disagreement and misunderstanding?

avoid misunderstanding


Each of these three people saw the incident from an angle that has a blind spot. In fact, in this example, each person has 2 blind spots. Each person’s blind spots are exactly the angles that two other people saw the incident with them. By this example, the solution to avoid misunderstanding becomes clear. If any of these three people can see the incident from the other 2 angles, the problem will be solved. But how can we discover the different people’s angles in different events and issues? NLP answers this question.

How to discover different people’s view angle?

John Grinder (one of the founders of NLP) and Judith Delozier believe that this can be done in 3 steps. In one of their works, they called these three steps the first, second and third perceptual positions. In the following, we explain each of these perceptual positions.

The first perceptual position: the first person view point

The first perceptual position is the first person view point. In this perceptual position, we rely solely on the information we receive from our world through our preferred channels for interpreting the events, and do not consider any other viewpoints. Some people are always in the first perceptual position.

Second perceptual position: the second person view point or empathy

perceptual position

In the second perceptual position, we consider the other’s view point. It is important for us to know what do they think about that? What are they saying? How do they feel? Since an incident has different meanings for different people, using the second person view point (the second perceptual position) can cover some of our blind spots.
They also call it empathy. Because when we are in the second perceptual position, we are actually trying to look at the world from the eyes of others. For this reason, we can feel empathy with others. So, if you have misunderstanding with someone, you can ask him a question about the issue. If you have more effective communication, you will be aware of the reality of the incident, and you can get the second perceptual position better.

Third Perceptual Position: The third person view point

In your third perceptual position, you look at the world from outside. It’s as if you’re an impartial observer and you’re not involved in anything. Like a narrator of a story that can observe the characters of the story from outside and judge them impartially.
In the third perceptual position we should ask ourselves: how does an impartial person judge about this incident or behavior? It should be noted that this perceptual position is different from the two previous positions but is not superior. In fact, all three positions are equally important.

How to use the three perceptual positions to avoid and solve misunderstandings?

It is important to move freely between these three positions in order to avoid a misunderstanding or solve it. The one who stops in the first position is a selfish person. The one who is only in the second position is unknowingly influenced by the others. Finally, the person in the third position is an independent observer of life. We have to use these three positions naturally and simultaneously. We can understand the issues better by this. Misunderstanding can be avoided only by using of these 3 perceptual positions simultaneously.
We hope this article help you not to have misunderstanding


Farshid Pakzat Research Group