This is one of the many NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) presuppositions and one of the original 8 of Richard Bandler.
What does NLP mean with the presupposition?
Often we define what we intend to say as the meaning of the communication. And although it is the intended meaning, people can react in very different ways to your communication. NLP suggests that the reponse to the communication defines its meaning. It takes the perspective of the receiving end.
If you intend to make a joke and someone responds by starting to cry, the intended meaning (sharing some fun) and the actual perceived meaning (crying) are very different. This presupposition says that ‘crying’ is the real meaning of the communication.
NLP focuses more on the subjective experience of the communication than on the content of the communication. This makes this presupposition more interesting, it may not be what you said, but how you said it that triggered the response.
Why is it necessary for NLP to believe this?
Our own communication can be changed by ourselves. We cannot change the perception on the other side, not directly anyway. So if we look for the response to our communication, we get feedback on how well the intended communication was received. If it was not received like it was intended, we can change our communication or the way we communicate to try another approach. Repeating the same behavior will give you the same response (but that’s another presupposition on its own).
Can I find proof or personal experiences that support the presupposition?
This is more or less an attitude instead of a belief. How do you prove an attitude? You don’t. This attitude is also aligned with Covey’s 5th habit: Seek first to understand and then to be understood. It’s taking the other’s perspective before taking your own.
Can I find proof or personal experiences that undermine the presupposition?
Along the same lines as the previous question, there can be no proof to an attitude. I do think that sometimes it’s impossible to get an understanding. Sometimes people are simply not interested or capable of understanding. So if you try to explain something and people look bored, puzzled or confused, you know what the meaning of your communication was
In conclusion, how do I feel about this presupposition?
I agree with this attitude and with this presupposition. This presupposition makes you responsible for the communication, not the other.
Time for you to talk
What do you think of this presupposition? Does it make sense to you? Do you have experiences or examples that might undermine this presupposition?