What’s New? MRM (Mind Reading Motivation)

Mind readingMRM is the tendency to engage with the mental states and perspectives of others. But it’s much more than just a means of passing idle time. Being high in MRM leads to many social benefits, including better teamwork… *

Mind Reading (called Theory of Mind) is not new but the study of the motivation to do it is. We are talking here about what goes on in our minds about other minds – especially to help us figure out what actions another person might take. Sounds useful, doesn’t it; which is why, starting at about 4 years of age, we humans use non-verbal cues like body language or facial expression to figure out what’s going on in the minds of other people. Some of us are better at it than others, but we are not talking about ability here. We are talking about the socially beneficial motivation to read the minds of others, which also seems to vary among us.

Teams high in MRM reported significantly more enjoyment, cooperation, and equality of contribution in working together on a task. Although it remains to be studied whether the quality of work is superior among high MRM teams, my own clients** tend to stress more about other people at work than the work itself. How we work together matters. Everything is connected to everything else. Work stress impacts everything in our lives, including but not limited to our health.

People with high MRM actually enjoy speculating about what other people are thinking. So, if you want to increase your own MRM, increase your enjoyment of it. Make it a game. You can do this with stories (guessing about what the characters are thinking, feeling, doing next), just as is recommended for parents who want to help their kids get better at reading social signals. Or you can bring it closer to home and play guessing games with your partner. This would be especially useful for couples who feel they may have trouble understanding one another, or for coworkers too.

Keyword: Guessing. All we can do is guess. It is hard enough to know our own minds with 100% accuracy, let alone someone else’s – why I try to convey to my clients that what I suggest to them about themselves is only hypothesis, for them to confirm or disconfirm. But even if and when we are wrong, does it not feel mighty good, just as the study found, to know that someone else cares that much about what is going on inside of us. And when they get it right, then we really feel known – and I believe it is only when we really feel known that we can really feel loved. So try it. You may like it. Make it a game so you can enjoy it. Practice, practice, practice, and see what happens.

To work on this or something else, would love to hear from you:

Email:  Madelaine Weiss

* “Research examines the social benefits of getting into someone else’s head” June 1, 2016 http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-06-social-benefits.html

**Examples and illustrations are fictional composites inspired by but not depicting nor referring to any actual specific person in my practice or life experience.

Copyright © 2017. Madelaine Claire Weiss. All rights reserved.



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