Often in a conversation,
we attribute our thoughts and feelings to the companion and create an imaginary picture of them. In psychology, this mechanism is called projection. This is a defense mechanism, therefore, it is especially pronounced in complex negotiations and disputes, when we are worried and experience a tremendous set of feelings.
So when we are angry, it is easy to assume that the other person is angry with us (even if there is no evidence)
As a result, this effect makes it difficult for us to understand the thoughts and feelings of another because we have already come up with something for them. In such cases, the dispute cannot be constructive, people do not come into contact, they talk with fictitious images, and just do not hear each other.
Recently, one client of mine, let's call him Bob, told me a story about how difficult it is for him to negotiate with another department. They always come to him, demanding his help on their projects. And he is acting very defensive because helping them might jeopardize his KPIs. This contradiction always causes heated conversations and usually escalates to the management, giving Bob a reputation as a stubborn and hostile person. Through the consultation, we understood that Bob sees his peers as demanding and selfish since they know that his KPIs might be affected if he will help them. Though Bob has never told this concern to another department and never has tried to reassess his KPIs with the management so his team might be more agile in joining new projects.
To prevent falling for Projection, try checking your intuitive reactions to the arguments of your counterpart. We call it “Presumption of the best intentions”. Do you feel threatened or undermined because of what you just heard in an argument? Try to presume that all that was said to you was said with a constructive intention to build a dialogue, point out your mistake, or help you to achieve some good result. Try to act out of this presumption. It might be possible that you are mistaken. But the consequences of a such mistake are much less destructive than presuming the opposite.