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What’s the MRI

This insightful video explores the concept of MRI (Most Respectful Interpretation) as a powerful tool for personal development and effective communication. Focused on navigating conflicts, it emphasizes the importance of shifting default interpretations towards a more respectful and positive lens. The three-world model is introduced, highlighting the encoding and decoding of intentions and actions. The narrative underscores the significance of bridging gaps in understanding by adopting the MRI approach, fostering mutual respect and opening doors to constructive conversations. With tags such as Communication, Conflict, Change, Leadership, and Teamwork, the video provides practical insights for enhancing interpersonal skills and team dynamics.


What’s the MRI? This is how to shift from your default listening to the most respectful interpretation. I consider this ability a skill, the courage it takes, but the capability of doing this, of learning how to create a more respectful interpretation when you’re dealing with someone, especially in a conflict, is absolutely crucial to interpersonal effectiveness, to leadership, to good management, good parenting, good, pretty much anything involving human beings. And here’s how it works. You remember the three worlds. If you haven’t seen this model before, go online. Get this model. So I’m going to give you a quick preview of the three worlds here. Here’s a person over here. They have some intention. They encode that intention into some kind of action in the world. Here’s a person over here who sees this action. They decode it based on their history and background and have a certain interpretation of what this means. Now, that interpretation is almost always automatic. It’s based on your history with this person or your history with this kind of action. It’s based on how you were taught to decode certain things, like tone of voice or gestures or certain things about the context, like if it’s a boss or a subordinate or someone from it, or air or some unit in the organization about which you have some strong feelings, you pretty much have a default set of glasses through which you look at the action, which tells you what it means. Now, the problem in a conflict is that quite often when something happens and we decode it in a way that creates a maybe a negative or an implication about the other person or the other department or the other unit, when it’s a default, that kind of interpretation that doesn’t have much respect in it or certainly doesn’t have much possibility in it, it kind of leaves you being right and the other person or the other group wrong.

When that happens, possibility goes to zero. Basically, it’s very, very difficult, I would say impossible to have any kind of a breakthrough when you’re in that situation, when your default interpretation is primarily negative and you have nowhere else to go. I want to introduce another concept here because what happens is you have their in their world, you’re in your world, and there’s stuff that happened in the world, just the facts. So until you interpret it, it doesn’t mean anything. But because of your history, you have this negative interpretation. Here’s what I’m proposing that you bridge the gap and start with an MRI. Look for the MRI. There’s this continuum. Actually, if you think about it, of how much respect and how much possibility is is in the situation because of the way you’re seeing it low, medium and high. How much respect, how much possibility at the low end is what I call blame and make wrong. That’s usually the default. If you’re in a conflict with somebody nine times out of ten, what you see going on over there is something that they’re wrong and you’re blaming them for it. So it’s the kind of the default blame and make wrong interpretation. But what if you gave them the benefit of the doubt? What if they were a friend? Or what if you had some other reason to say maybe there are other interpretations, maybe there are other explanations for why they did that.

Then you get a little more respect and a little more possibility. But I’m telling you, if you can go for the most respectful interpretation, what I call the MRI, that’s when you have very, very high mutual respect and high possibility for a different outcome. Let’s go back here. Person intention encodes action. Here we are over here. We’re watching this and we go home. I’ve got my default going. But you know what? Time out. What if there’s a better explanation? What if the what if I were in their world? Actually, not just in my world. What kind of other explanations might there be for why this group or this person is doing what they’re doing? You can bridge the gap when it happens by going for what I call the most respectful interpretation that you can imagine for why they’re doing what they’re doing. Let’s take an example. Let’s pick on a group that gets picked on unfortunately a lot in organizations. Let’s take information technology. And let’s say that that you’re a department or a unit and you’ve been begging, asking, demanding, desperately needing something from it. And they have not been responding. They have not been giving you what you want. And right away your default is, well, you know how it is. You know how those people are over there in it. They are down in their computers. They don’t really care about the real world. They don’t care about how desperate we are out here in the field for this sales platform that’s desperately needed to get to make more sales.

So that’s the default. That’s the blame and the make wrong. What if you go for the absolutely most respectful interpretation? What’s another explanation for why it might not be giving you the stuff other than that they’re dedicated to making your life miserable? How about the most respectful interpretation might be they are swamped. Every unit in the organization, I’m sure, wants what we like, what we want from them. Everybody wants it. I would hate to be in their shoes and have to do the prioritization. Wow. That’s a very, very different place to be. Now imagine going in to talk to someone in it with that interpretation as a starting point, rather than why the heck aren’t you guys giving us what we need? There is an example. Start with your MRI as an explanation until they prove that it’s true or not true. Whether your MRI is actually true or not true, it opens the door for a conversation that has more possibility in it. So I urge you as a principle in any kind of conflict, to imagine a truly positive, respectful interpretation or explanation for why the other person might be doing that and start with that in the conversation. This is a very powerful way to bridge the gap that exists between you and other people, your department and other departments. Try it. I think you’ll find this thinking of an MRI as a magical, magical first step in any kind of a conflict conversation.


This insightful video delves into essential survival skills for navigating today’s workplace challenges. Covering skills seven to ten, it emphasizes the importance of developing courage to face challenges (symbolized by “tigers”), mastering cross-functional teamwork, adapting to rapid change, and finding purpose beyond routine tasks. The author encourages readers to view their work as contributing to a larger purpose, urging them to quit a mundane job and discover work that aligns with personal passions and makes a meaningful impact. With a focus on personal development, organizational growth, and effective teamwork, the video provides practical advice for thriving in the dynamic modern workplace.

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