Creative Leadership

People Can’t Read Your Mind

I wrote a post some time ago expressing my opinion that the old adage “Money follows ministry” is a myth. You can read the post for the details, but it comes from a very common misconception – that somehow people can read our mind. In business or our personal lives we often just assume the people around us somehow mysteriously know what we’re thinking and what we want – and we get frustrated when they don’t.

A woman was walking home with her groceries and she started to struggle with the load. As she walked, a teenage boy watched her without moving. She started to get mad that he wasn’t assisting, and in her frustration, she finally dropped a bag of groceries. With a stern look on her face, she sarcastically asked him, “Hey, can you help me?” The boy happily replied, “I thought you’d never ask,” and jumped to her aid.

We’d all love to think everyone knows what we want.In marriage, we’d even like to think “If he really loved me, he’d know what I need and do it without me asking.”It’s a nice sentiment, but most of the time, it simply isn’t true.

When you stop and think about it, it’s actually a little arrogant to think that the world revolves around us. When someone can’t read your mind, it doesn’t make them a bad person – it just makes them human. The truth is, they’d love to help, they just need to know what you want.

Let’s stop feeling sorry for ourselves and learn to articulate our needs and desires. Let’s all stop assuming, and learn to ask people in a nice way.

You’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll get done, and happier you’ll be as a result.

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  1. I agree and especially highlight your point about learning to articulate our needs in a nice way. Nice can mean directly so that others do not need to seconds guess (and come to wrong conclusions) but also with some humility (which is not equivalent with “forgive me for living” type of an attitude.) I must say however that i often surprised especially among the religious media how often people express a strong desire to create a project to reach others with “the message” without articulating what that project and message are- they simply express the “desire”. I often think of the verse, ” he that ordereth his conversation aright…” Just as we should praise God and pray to him with well thought out ideas, we need to do the same thing when attending meetings, pitching and setting goals. Think it through!


  2. Great stuff as usual Phil.  You have a knack for saying what people have thought of but never had the time to state it properly.  People are so gun-shy about saying exactly what they mean or what they need because so many people take offense to the silliest things.  But that hinders those of us who simply want to help.  But knowing what exactly the need is can be difficult to discern without asking the awkward questions.  We can’t read your mind!  Just tell us for Heaven’s sake!

    I am forwarding this post to my wife…

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