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A Horses Tail: How we jump to the wrong conclusions


Last week I was in a coaching session with Mark. Executive coaching sessions have three participants: myself, the person I am coaching, and a horse. In this session we were focusing on self belief and self perceptions. This included exploring the way we observe certain behaviours in others and then put our own interpretations on them. The way we take in data, put our own meaning on it and act accordingly. At one stage during the session, the horse's tail moved. "What did the horse do then?” I asked. "Flicked his tail", Mark responded "What do you think this means?" I queried Mark did not hesitate in his instant response, "That he is angry. Pissed of with me that I am here in his space." He may have been correct. Sometimes a horse does switch his tail when he is annoyed. I didn’t say anything. Just let the silence envelope us. Thinking time. Just then the horse twitched his skin. "What is he doing now?" Mark asked, having never seen this before. My response was that horses have very sensitive skin. They can feel the lightest touch. When a fly lands on them, they can feel it and twitch their skin to dislodge the fly. The horse then swung his head around to gently nip his flank. "See that?" I asked. "Yep". "What did he do?" I asked again "He swung his head around and put his nose on his side". "Let’s explore this further," I said. "So the first thing we saw was the horse swish his tail. And you felt he was angry with you. Now that we have seen him twitch his skin and nip his flank. Do you think that your initial thoughts were correct?" Mark answered, "Well no. I can now see that he was actually trying to shoo the flies away." "Are there times in your life when you have jumped to the wrong conclusion after one incident?" Mark's eyes widened, "Yes. I do it all the time. Just yesterday my CEO didn’t call me back and instantly I thought that I must have done something wrong." We explored this further during the rest of our coaching session. There is a difference between being aware and being hyper-aware. Hyper-aware in this context is being so sensitive to others that you ascribing rationale to one observed behaviour which may not be correct...... or to put it simply, jumping to the wrong conclusion. Mark and I agreed on a rule of 3 One incident. Be aware Second time. Take notice Third time. It is a pattern. What can I now reasonably conclude? How many times have you became anxious after one incident or event only to realise later you were completely wrong? Wasting emotional energy and time for no reason. Remember the rule of 3: a tail swish, a skin twitch and a bite.
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