I was reading Mo Gawdat’s “Solve for happy” and among other brilliant stuff I found there, there was a lot about concentrating on here & now, and also on how to stop your brain from wandering around but make it stick to the facts. And then I realized, that starting with the facts and postponing interpretations is the leitmotive of plethora of techniques and tools I already know.
Take NVC (Nonviolent Communication) for example. The first step of NVC is to list what you observe (see, hear, feel) without any evaluations. Take Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono. The first hat — the white one — is all about available data (AKA facts). Other group discussion techniques and problem solving tools also follow the same approach. And if you ever attended a team retrospective (you know, agile thingie), there is a big chance the exercises you did there also forced you to list all the facts first, and only then go on with interpretations, action points and so on.
So, why is that everyone wants you to stick to the facts first? Plenty of reasons, but the main seems to avoid jumping into conclusions too fast. Your brain tries to do some shortcuts. It looks for familiar patterns and convinces you, that what you see now is the same stuff that you already know:
So let’s save some processing power and let us already jump to the conclusion, shall we?
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But if allow your brain to do this shortcut and you believe that interpretations of what you see are the real facts… oh boy… you might get in real troubles.
So, start with the facts. It will help you find the real problems and real solutions.