Making sense of Mental Nutrition® - a model of sense-making
We are all engaging in a process of making sense of what is going on.
Based on our life experience, we build up a view of how we think the world works. This view draws on our history, beliefs, values, assumptions, expectations, concerns, and more. When something happens, we interpret the event and give it a meaning, based on this collection of life's experience.
For example, when we see someone place old items of furniture beside a Salvo's bin, we may not even notice, we may consider this a generous gesture, we may regard it as outrageous rubbish dumping. All possible interpretations, depending on our perspective.
We are unlikely to notice the steps we went through to arrive at these meanings. The process is mostly automatic and unconscious. We don't spend much time thinking about what is going on in our mental pantry â€“ metaphorically, that place where we do our interpreting.
Communicating is about meanings. One person creates a meaning, displays this meaning to another person who then interprets the displayed meaning to create their own meaning. Herein lies the source of most of our so-called communication problems. My meanings are not identical to yours.
When we accept that constructing meaning is problematic we have the seed for growing greater elegance, confidence, and flexibility.
I pioneered the concept Mental Nutrition® to focus on this sense-making process that underpins connecting with people. The Mental Nutrition® framework comprises three core ingredients:
- Managing meaning
- Feeding the mind.
My model of sense-making is based on an acceptance that sense is a social construction and that the greatest problem between people is the uncritical assumption of mutual understanding. (Langer 1992a).
Mental Nutrition® has a multi-disciplinary foundation, informed by communication theory and practice, linguistics, cognitive and social psychology, NLP, Positive Psychology, and semiotics.
I use this framework to build capabilities in connecting, confidence-building, influencing, presenting, wellbeing and employability.
Understanding the sense-making process and making fruitful choices means you can:
- Win more business because you know how to make sense of details, information, experiences for clients, win their understanding and help them to make decisions in your favour.
- Lead organisational changes more smoothly by using more sophisticated meaning management behaviours.
- Reduce business costs by reducing misunderstandings between people.
- Gain more confidence to deal with people hiccups with colleagues, staff and clients.
- Experience a more fruitful life by replacing self-sabotaging mental frameworks with ones that support your goals.
- Present a stronger case when applying for jobs.
- Manage your career more effectively.
(Langer, E. J. 1992a, Interpersonal mindlessness and language. Communication Monographs, 59, 324-327