A kitten that peaks out from under a blanket

Both NVC, TOC, mindfulness and acceptance therapy all stress the importance of using objective statements. So why is objectivity so important? Or rather, why is the subjective so dangerous? The answer is in the latin roots of the words.

Objective is a thing presented clearly to the mind. Sub in subjective is the same sub as in submarine and subterfuge. In the subjective, there is something hidden. Something is present beneath what we see. It can be called context or a person’s world view. The problem is that it is not explicitly stated.

When we try to solve a problem, or adapt to the present situation in some other way, it is important to know what is really there. In NVC there is an unfulfilled need that might be hard to state explicitly if we are allowed to be subjective or even judging. In TOC we need to find a conflict that can be challenged or a false dichotomy. That might be hard if causes and effects are hidden in assumptions. Mindfulness is the practise of seeing things as they are so that they lose their power over you. Things hidden beneath the subjective are hard to see. In acceptance therapy we have mindfulness, but also acceptance through acting. We can not act correctly if we do not know, and accept, what is going on.

So trying to fix a problem that is described in subjective terms is like debugging a system we have no access to. The best we can do is to guess, and perhaps restart a server.

If we learn to break down the subjective statement into objective statements, by making the implicit explicit, we can finally see the entire puzzle we are trying to solve. When figuring out what to do, we need all the information on the table. That is why subjective statements are dangerous, they hide information from us.

Related texts

Whirlwind computer, sections of core memory and controls, in Museum of Science, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Unnecessary limitations with a history

A kitten that peaks out from under a blanket

Solutions hidden under subjectivity