Responding to Mind-Reads

Goal: Build skill at responding to other people’s mind-reads of you 

Estimated time: 15–25 minutes

In this exercise, your partner role-plays someone who has a mind-read of you. Review the strategy outlined in the “Response Skill” section of Chapter 4, and then go through the following steps:

  1. Think of a mind-read that someone has expressed to you. Tell it to your partner, giving them enough background on the situation that they have a reasonable idea of where the mind-read may have originated.
  2. Your partner states the mind-read.
  3. Respond with the clarification strategy:
    • Clarify the content: Give a paraphrase, followed by a yes-or-no question. (Partner responds)
    • Clarify the origin: Ask a broad question about what exactly triggered their mind-read. (Partner responds)
    • Clarify the accuracy: Correct the mind-read (if false), confirm it (if true), or do a combination of both (if partly true), and then ask a follow-up question. (Partner responds)
  4. Either end the conversation or continue talking for a while and see where the discussion leads you.

When you’re done, ask the other person how your comments came across, and talk about what the experience was like for you. If you’re not happy with the way the conversation went, refine your strategy and try again. Then switch roles, so your partner gets a chance to practice.

Keep practicing until your new skills start to feel natural. Remember to begin by using the strategy with mind-reads that aren’t too highly charged. You can gradually move on to dealing with issues that bring up stronger feelings.


Partner (role-playing a spouse): I can tell that you’re angry with me. (Mind-read)

You: You’re thinking that I’m angry, and it has to do with you. (Paraphrase) Is that right? (Yes-or-no question)

Partner: Yes.

You: What makes you say that? (Broad question)

Partner: You’ve been snapping at me all evening.

You: You’re right that I’m feeling angry. It’s not about you. (Partial confirmation and partial correction) Do you want to know why I’m upset? (Follow-up question)

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