Dawning comprehension of how psychology is applicable is an unending source of fascination for me. I had previously regurgitated a stock definition of the defense mechanism, "projection" in my post The Sustainability of Blame. While a fairly straight-forward concept, I wasn't thinking at the time of any real practical application, or example of projection in action - and may very well never had, excepting a short, personal recounting I ran across by Storylane author Elandus Lake about what his father always said:
When there is no evidence, the thing that you think someone else is doing is the very thing that you would, or are, doing yourself. Your thoughts come from you not someone else. If you think someone is doing something wrong, and there's no reason for you to think that way, you are the person who came up with the possibility.
For me, it puts a face on psychological projection, and allows me to step back and consider the possibility that my conclusions are based on my own filtered perception, and not necessarily the truth. Mr. Lake went on to further explain how even "tone" in a conversation can be misrepresented through projection. Just because I may use that tone when I am angry or defensive, doesn't mean that the person I am communicating with is using it for that purpose - they may use "tone" entirely differently.
It reminds me of when I was in a high-level vendor meeting with an IT sales guy pitching these fantastic throughputs of their new RAID array. Fantastic because they were false. While he was talking Ernest was jotting down equations and numbers and when the sales guy finally took a breath, Ernest - in a very shaky voice (I thought he was nervous about public speaking) - disproved the throughput numbers to the point the sales guy recanted. I asked Ernest about that later. He wasn't nervous, he was attempting to curb his anger. I totally misread that tone!
Re-reading The Sustainability of Blame reminded me that I really do believe we are all, in part, responsible for what happens around us. Our choices, our attitudes, and the nature of causality - even when we're anticipating (notice I didn't say expecting) different outcomes. Because that is one of my core beliefs, I would never insinuate it wasn't. For me to insinuate fault, or blame would mean I did believe in it, but I didn't want anyone to think I did. Are insinuations therefore subject to projection as well?
I don't know, but with this new found understanding, it just adds one more thing to the list I need to be mindful of.