What's an Observation?

To observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.
– Jiddu Krishnamurti

When we think and communicate based on pure observation, needs and requests, we increase the likelihood for movement, connection and fulfillment.

For the sake of increasing fulfillment, I invite you to replace the use of “observation” as it is colloquially used (to mean “to state an opinion or conclusion”) with a sense of speaking about the world in observations that are without conclusion, assessment, opinion, or judgement.

Observation is:
the act of making and recording a measurement. Ex: “Three times this week”. Therefore “always”, “never”, and “sometimes” are not observations, but assessments. “You never XYZ,” is not an observation. “Twice last week you didn’t XYZ…,” may be an observation.

Observation is:
– recognizing and noting some fact or occurrence. Ex: “The door closed.” Therefore, interpretation is not the same as observation, “you slammed the door” is an interpretation. “I have not heard you tell me back what I’m saying” is an observation. “You’re not listening,” is an interpretation.

Observation is:
– recognizing and noting some fact or occurrence. Ex: “I asked twice and twice he said ‘no’,” is an observation. “He is stubborn,” is a label, an assessment, an opinion, a judgment.

Observation is:
– recognizing and noting some fact or occurrence. Ex: “I have met 2 people who earned more than I earn who I did not like,” is an observation. “Rich people are mean, they think they’re entitled,” are generalizations, categorizations (ie: assessments, not observations).

Observation is:
– recognizing and noting some fact or occurrence, without making meaning. Ex: “1000 suicide bombers died last year,” is an observation. “The world is being overrun by suicide bombers,” is an extrapolation of you making meaning, your opinion / conclusion that doesn’t represent a fact.

Observation is:
– free of judgment, opinion, analysis, assessment, generalization, or interpretation. Ex: “I observe that 3 days last week you told me you were busy,” is an observation. “I observe that she’s pathological,” is not an observation, it’s an assessment, an analysis, regardless of the fact that the word ‘observe’ is being used. “She is wearing a red hat,” is an observation. “She’s dressed strangely,” is an opinion.

Think of it this way – if someone can argue with you on your statement or debate the validity of it, or if it could not be recorded on a video or on tape, then it’s likely not an observation.

How are your powers of observation?

For each of these sentences would you assess it as an observation or as an opinion? If you think the sentence is an opinion, how might it be changed to qualify as an observation?

– The world is falling apart.
– I’m having a bizarre day.
– You’re just PMSing.
– He’s difficult.
– He hung up on me 3 times! He’s a jerk!
– You’re a terrific dancer.
– You’re the best dancer I’ve ever danced with.
– I love how you waltz.
– I notice I’m obsessing.
– I notice I’m spending more than 2 hours a day thinking about it.
– I observed that he was too impatient to talk to me.
– She said it in a threatening tone of voice. Everyone would agree!


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