Observations vs. Evaluations: Enhancing Connection in Communication

In the realm of communication, there’s a hidden treasure that holds the key to deeper understanding, empathy, and genuine connection: the distinction between observations and evaluations. It’s a subtle yet transformative shift with your words that can reshape the way we interact and relate to others. In Episode #133 of Self Love and Sweat THE PODCAST, the spotlight shines on this powerful concept, revealing its significance in fostering meaningful connections.

Observations vs Evaluations in Communication

Let’s be real – we’ve all been in conversations that escalated into emotional showdowns. Phrases like “You’re so rude and inconsiderate, you always do this!” echo through our minds. Yet, as we delve into the magic of observations vs. evaluations, we uncover a path that can lead us to more constructive and nurturing dialogues. This process comes from the work of Marshall B. Rosenberg and his book Nonviolent Communication (highly recommend!)

Observations, the raw data of what we witness or experience, provide a common ground for understanding. They serve as the foundation upon which we build our communication. Unlike evaluations, which carry judgments and assumptions, observations are neutral and fact-based. When we frame our statements in terms of observations, we create an open door for connection. Instead of pointing fingers, we create a space for shared experience.

Observations, empathy and perspective

The beauty of this concept lies in its profound ability to foster empathy. When we express ourselves through observations, we invite others into our reality, allowing them to understand what we’re experiencing without feeling attacked or defensive. This paves the way for authentic conversations and genuine connections. By focusing on observations, we demonstrate respect for the uniqueness of each individual’s perspective.

This simple shift can transform arguments into discussions, conflicts into collaborations, and judgments into empathy. So, the next time you find yourself on the verge of evaluation, take a step back and embrace the power of observation – your communication and connections will thrive because of it.


Lunden Souza: 

Welcome to Self Love and Sweat the podcast, the place where you’ll get inspired to live your life unapologetically, embrace your perfect imperfections, break down barriers and do what sets your soul on fire. I’m your host, Lunden Souza. Hey, have you grabbed your free Self Love and Sweat monthly calendar? Yet this calendar is so amazing. It comes right in your inbox every single month to help you have a little nugget of wisdom, a sweaty workout, a mindset activity, just a little something, something to help keep you focused and motivated and keep that momentum towards your goals. So every day, when you get this calendar, you’ll see a link that you can click that will lead to a podcast episode or a workout or something that will be very powerful and quick to read. And then you’ll also see, on the top left corner of every single day, there’s a little checkbox in the calendar and what that is is that’s for your one thing. You can choose one thing every month, or it can be the same, something that you wanna implement and make this something that you can easily implement, like daily meditation or getting a certain amount of steps or water, for example, and staying hydrated and even taking your supplements. This can be something if you wanna get more regular, doing a particular habit and routine. You can choose what that checkbox means. So if you want your self, love and sweat free monthly calendar delivered right to your inbox every month on the first of the month, go to lifelikelunden. com/calendar, fill out the form really quickly and you will have your calendar in your inbox within a few short minutes. That’s lifelikelunden. com/calendar. Go, get yours for free and enjoy this episode.


Welcome to today’s QMR quick mindset reset. Today we’re talking about observations versus evaluations, and this is very profound in communication because oftentimes we can actually be saying a ton of evaluations when really what would be better for connection and better for communication is to utilize observations. Now, this is something that I go deep in detail in in my new course level up your language, level up your life, how to go from talker to communicator. It’s available 50% off right now for a limited time for the launch price, so I’m gonna put that in the show notes. So if you feel like this episode resonates with you and you wanna dive deeper into your words and the way that your words and what we say ends up, what we are seeing in our reality, if you wanna dive deeper into that you can go ahead and take that course, but today we’re gonna talk about observations versus evaluations. Now, this is a part of what’s called nonviolent communication. This is the work of Marshall B Rosenberg. He passed away already, but he was a psychologist that worked with a lot of leaders, a lot of really challenging situations where people were having a hard time communicating, and he wrote a book called Nonviolent Communication, which I highly recommend everybody read. Seriously, it’s so profound and it changed my life, and so I share this. In my course. I break it down in depth. There’s more or less like yeah, there’s four parts to nonviolent communication, or four steps, and today we’re talking about the first one observation versus evaluation. So let me give an example of an evaluation. Oh, my gosh, you always do that, and whenever you talk to me that way, you’re so rude and so inconsiderate.

The observation would be hey, when you talk to me, you weren’t making eye contact with me and your voice sounded a little bit, yeah, annoyed and frustrated. What’s up, right, saying what happened, saying what is, versus putting our toppings all over it Hashtag, no toppings when it comes to wanting to connect through communication. If we start making observations about somebody like, oh, when you just walked in, you were so rude and you never talked to me. It’s like we’re setting the other person up that we’re attempting to communicate with. We’re setting them up to get defensive, right, I wasn’t being rude, that’s not what I meant, that wasn’t my intention. I don’t always do that and it can really like hinder that connection. It can really Prevent somebody from being able to connect with you through communication. Another thing that was embedded in what I just said Was universal quantifiers, which is like always or never Right. When we do that, it creates defensiveness in the person that we’re talking to, because they’re, instead of connecting with you and communicating with you, they’re thinking like okay, what’s some evidence that I haven’t always done that or what’s a time that I did do that? So you know, when this person says never, I can be like yes, I did remember this time, right, and it becomes too tit for tat and we end up trying to convince the person rather than connect with them. So another example would be you know, he’s always late to meetings and he doesn’t care about his job, right? Versus? You might be like hey, I noticed that you showed up late to the last three meetings. We got started a little bit late and then we didn’t have enough time to cover everything that’s necessary to move the project forward. You know what can we work on so that you can get to these meetings on time? How can I support you, right? So, thinking about the language that we use and all the toppings that we put on it, because the truth is is it’s kind of like an iceberg. Okay, if you think about an iceberg, the tip of the iceberg is above the, the ocean right, and you can see that. Right, that’s the, the words that come out of our mouth. You know the, the way that we show up in the world. But there’s also the. You know the bottom of the iceberg, the stuff that you don’t see, and so a lot of that is in that deep structure, in that below the surface Part of the iceberg, there’s a lot of stuff that we might not realize, like where we got our communication style from, where we got Our word choice, from our tonality right.

You ever hear people say like, oh, I sound like my mom, or I sound like my dad, or I’m, you know, communicating in those same ways. It’s because that’s really part of our programming and if we don’t acknowledge when our communication style might have come from and also maybe some of the trauma big T and little T that Created a response that now is these word choices right? So when we’re doing a lot of the that deep work and a lot of the stuff that I do with my clients one-on-one, we begin to see, oh, that’s probably why I communicate that way, oh, that must be a defense mechanism. That’s why I’m putting a lot of these evaluations out there and I’m kind of blinded to some of these observations when we slow down before we approach someone in conversation. This can really help with making sure we choose observations over evaluations. Because think about it whenever maybe you’ve been frustrated or upset and then you want to write out that email or send the text message or just like, have the conversation right and I’m sure you’ve heard, you know of the tip before and if you haven’t, it’s a really profound one. But you know where. You just write the email but don’t send it, sleep on it for 24 hours, 48 hours, come back and look at it and decide if that’s what you want to say. I think we could use more buffer time before we jump into the conversation, into the communication opportunity. You know we could use more buffer time that could help us decide. Okay, am I jumping into this conversation with a bunch of evaluations and a bunch of toppings or Can I get clarity? Can I come down? Can I take a couple days, a couple hours, whatever we might need to then decide what we’re going to say, so that way it can be an actual observation. We can actually say what happened, instead of getting our emotions and all of our things wrapped up in it and then blurting out an evaluation of like you’re always rude, you don’t care about it, you’re never on time. That frustration, I feel like, has a place right. Write it down, write out a letter to the person that you never send to them. Write it out and rip it up and burn it right. Just because we might feel a certain type of way doesn’t mean that we have to express it in the exact way that we want to write away, right? It’s nice to have a little bit of buffer time and to ask myself okay, how would my best self show up to this conversation?

Right now, I’m evaluating all over the place. How can I center myself? How can I get clear on what specifically happened, so that I can make an observation instead of an evaluation. So then my conversation drives connection and I’m not trying to convince the person that they did or did not do this and they’re not trying to convince me that they did or did not do something right, and it becomes like tug of war. Okay, so in today’s QMR, in this quick mindset reset, I want you to think about what are some evaluations I’m making about people? What are some evaluations I’m making about situations? How am I taking an observation and blowing it up and putting all my extra toppings on it? Right, think about how you can now approach conversation with observations instead of evaluations. This has been really helpful in conversation, in tough conversations, whether it’s with people I work with or even my closest friends or even people that have been my partners. Right To make sure that we practice and we kind of rehearse. I do that a lot. I practice my observations instead of my evaluations, especially when I know I’m going into situations that can sometimes trigger me, whether I’m going around family or close friends or just certain situations where I’m like you know what, I’m not proud of how I was communicating the last time. Or even if I am, I think I could do even better and practice, rehearse, write it down, like I said, write it out and wait on it a little bit, or talk it out to yourself. When I’m preparing for conversations, I will talk to myself. I’ll put my headphones in and go for a walk and talk out that conversation. I put the headphones in so that way when I’m walking around, people don’t think I’m talking to myself, which I am, but it’s just. You know, I put the headphones in. So then it’s just like yeah, it’s like I’m talking on the phone or just talking to somebody. But I like to get it out and practice, because sometimes what happens is the way we want to communicate isn’t our autopilot, and we’re trying to change that autopilot and be like okay, I usually communicate like this. I don’t want to be that person anymore because the outcome is not getting me connection. I want to communicate like this, but I have to practice. It doesn’t sound like me yet, or I need to practice a way that it does sound a little bit more like me and the person that I want to become. So don’t be afraid to practice these observations so that you don’t get them caught up with evaluations. Okay, that’s your little home. Fun or homework for this episode is to notice when you’re making evaluations instead of observations, and start to practice saying what is saying specifically what happened, so that way you can really drive connection and communication and conversation.

And, like I said, if you want to grab my new course, level up your language, level up your life, how to go from talker to communicator I dive into all four points of nonviolent communication, including this one. Plus, there’s nine modules, a quiz to figure out what your representational system is, so you can understand yourself and others even better, and even have another one up in communicating with people who you know might communicate different or see and feel and hear things differently than you. It’s not about convincing, it’s about connections. So go out, go out, get out and make those observations instead of evaluations and we’ll see you at the next episode. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of self love and sweat, the podcast. Hey, do me a favor wherever you’re listening to this podcast, give us a review. This really helps a lot and share this with a friend. I’m only one person and with your help, we can really spread the message of self love and sweat and change more lives all around the world. I’m Lunden Souza, reminding you that you deserve a life full of passion, presence and purpose, fueled by self love and sweat. This podcast is a hitspot Austria production.