Turn Off The Projector When Communicating and Giving Feedback


It’s time to take a provocative view of communication and feedback. Chapters 9 through 12 in my book, Evolution Revolution, discuss how to communicate, listen, and give and receive feedback, along with how to create a culture of evolution.

I want to draw your attention to a behavior that is prevalent and unhealthy – projections. For when we are aware that we are projecting, we are invited to take personal responsibility.


What does this mean? What is a projection?

We are “running the projector” when we deny parts of ourselves and ascribe them to others. This becomes the predominant behavior from which we communicate.

Webster defines projection as—

The attribution of one’s own attitudes, feelings, suppositions, or desires to someone or something as a naive or unconscious defense against anxiety or guilt.

Through projections, we communicate You statements directed at others that are actually intended for us. Simply, we are not willing to take personal responsibility, and therefore, we blame the other person(s). It’s as if we are an actual projector – a machine – re-presenting our experience onto a screen – the other person.

This denial and transference to another is a common defense mechanism. We have blind spots, and it’s hard for us to see our own failings.

But it can be easy for us to see what’s wrong with other people, particularly our work colleagues, spouse, or partner. We are mirrors for each other and see clearly what we don’t like in them – but we get it backward. It’s not them; it’s us.

We want to believe what we want to believe, so we feel safe in ascribing the behavior to someone else. Yet, by disowning any part of our self, our self-esteem immediately takes a hit for the worse.

Blaming and shaming are classic examples of projections we use to avoid discomfort. We perceive in others the undesirable thoughts, motivations, desires, emotions, compartmentalization, and excitations that have split from our ego. This behavior maintains a self-created illusion.

These strategies are ways our ego maintains the illusion that we are completely in control. Among other non-beneficial by-products, while engaged in such behavior, we are unable to access truthful memories, intentions, and experiences about our own nature.

Some Real-life Examples of Projection

I have coached all of these in people:

  • The individual who accuses their spouse of wanting to have an affair when it is they who are having an affair

  • The executive coach who tells their client, “You have issues with authority,” when it is the coach who struggles with authority figures

  • You don’t listen” — a client’s remark to their colleague in defense of something said to him when it was he who wasn’t listening

  • Your feedback is too subjective” — a manager’s very subjective comment in an email to my client

  • The individual who claims her family is judgmental and doesn’t know how to connect, when it is she who judges everyone and doesn’t know how to create satisfying interactions

  • Parents who project all their hopes, dreams, and values onto their children instead of showing their kids how to cultivate their own values. (This is the doctor/lawyer parents who disapprove of their offspring who wants to be an artist.)

  • The workshop participant who tells a third-party that the facilitator was bored during the class, when it was he who was bored and didn’t speak up. I was the facilitator in this case, and at the beginning of the workshop, this individual told me that he was “checking the box,” then spent the majority of the workshop on his phone and laptop.

  • The businessman who claims his partner is untrustworthy when it was he who didn’t keep in alignment with a contractual agreement and refused to pay his share of the capital required in their formal, legal, signed contract

  • The executive who raves about everyone else when he is avoiding his own discomfort with being successful – projecting positive qualities as much as negative ones.


When you are “running the projector,” you will find confirming data for whatever you are projecting versus looking at within yourself. What you go looking for, you will find!

Personally, I made an agreement with myself to call “Bull$%#!” on my mind and its projections. This is true freedom!

Because projections directly break any connection between us and others. For impactful conversations, projecting back and forth is a waste of time and energy. The ability to discern when we are projecting creates opportunities to evolve.


Many people are a mystery to themselves and are virtually sleepwalking. They project by taking attributes from others and unconsciously ascribe them to others. I call this the pinball effect.

As you are reading this you may be thinking, “I never do that,” but examine yourself. You may notice that you, too, are making You statements.

In those moments, ask yourself, “Am I projecting to avoid something uncomfortable in myself?” Then instead of projecting, stop yourself, take responsibility, and share your experience with the intention to evolve.

As with everything I teach, don’t take my word for it – check it out for yourself.