∞ | The infinity sign is a good way to think about how two people communicate. On the left side we have Biff and on the right side is Fifi. The top of the loops represents their thoughts based on what behavior they saw or heard from the other. The bottom of the loops represents their feelings which stem from their thoughts or interpretation of the other’s behavior. The lines that reach from the bottom of one side to the top of opposite side of the loops represent the individual’s behavior. This is, also, what the other person perceives.
So, starting with the bottom of Biff’s loop and going upward to the opposite side is his behavior. Fifi sees/hears/smells what he has done and has a thought or an interpretation about his what his behavior means. That is the top of her side of the loop. Her thought, then, creates a feeling (mad, sad, glad, or scared) at the bottom of her loop and then that feeling motivates her behavior which is the line from the bottom of her side of the loop to the top of Biff’s. He interprets what she did or said and then his thought creates his feeling which motivates his behavior. This infinity sign of communication just goes on and on and on.
Once you understand this process of communication there are only a couple of things you can do to improve your communication. You can change the way you interpret the other’s behavior, or you can change how you behave. I don’t know how to change feelings directly, but if you change your interpretation and believe it, your feeling will change. To explain how this works, we must start with one of them, so I’ll pick on Biff and use an example from the “Becoming One as Husband and Wife” book. But that will be for the next blog.