I’m doing this blog because, honestly, it’s something that I need to work on and that’s assumptions, especially when it comes to people, and especially when I’m under pressure, and even more especially when the whole world is under pressure. What I know is that my assumptions about people will set the tone for our interactions and even cause them to act differently.
Years ago, there were all these studies done with school children where a researcher would tell their teachers, “Okay, these students are the smart students, and these others are the underachievers.” The truth was that the two groups were chosen at random. The kids in the “slow” group were no dumber or smarter than the kids in the “smart” group. But what the researchers found at the end of the school year is that the kids in the so-called smart group way outperformed the kids in the “slow” group!
Their teacher’s attitude toward them had actually shaped the kids’ behavior and their results! I hate to admit this but what I’ve come to realize about myself is that lately, I’ve been more distrusting of people. I’ve noticed myself thinking that people are mistreating me or taking advantage of me. I don’t think this way all the time but often enough that I’ve noticed it, especially now. And I know for sure that it doesn’t serve me or anyone around me to have those assumptions. If you are having the same issue, here are some tips to get over it and here’s how I plan on improving in this area.:
Know that you don’t really know.
We don’t know what’s going on with other people. You don’t know if that team member is dealing with a cheating wife (though one good thing about this coronavirus, it’s pretty hard for anyone to cheat on their spouses right now!) You don’t know if your husband is feeling guilty and freaked out because he can’t protect his family from this pandemic. You don’t know if your kids are depressed because they’re afraid you’re going to die. Or maybe your workers are worried about losing their jobs or getting their salaries cut. These are weird times. But even in easier times, we just don’t know what’s happening in other people’s lives or in their heads. We need to give them the benefit of the doubt, especially now.
We can also improve in this area by not taking things personally.
Isn’t it weird how we think the world revolves around us? If your partner is having a bad day, you think it’s something you did or didn’t do. If a client doesn’t return your email, you think they’re upset with you and your work. If your boss is cranky, you think you’re about to get fired. Listen, Folks, 99% ninety-nine percent of the time, people’s reactions have absolutely nothing to do with you! Think about it. If you’re under financial pressure and you snap at the dog, does it really have anything to do with the dog? No. It has to do with what you’re dealing with, not good old Fido.
Another strategy is do NOT compare others to yourself.
We all know (I hope!) that it’s useless to compare ourselves to others, right? Well, it’s just as destructive to compare others to ourselves. For example, maybe you’re thinking, “If he really loved me, he would help around the house more.” That’s a bad assumption in so many ways. But when you do that, you’re comparing him to what you would do to show love and caring right now. Or how about, “If she really cared about this job, she would have gotten that project done faster no matter what.” You’re basing that assumption on what you would do. Maybe she’s determined to get it right, or for some reason, this project, which would have been easy for you, was particularly hard for her. Does that make sense?
Here’s one of the worst assumptions, “They should know.”
For example, “My kids should know not to bother me when I’m on a call.” Or how about, “My staff should know to be on time for our virtual meetings.” Maybe it’s, “My spouse should know that I need alone time or more attention.” No, folks, they don’t know! The people around you are NOT mind readers. If you’re treating them as if “they should just know,” you’ll be constantly disappointed, guaranteed! So, what I’m working on now is to…
Try assuming the best in people.
I really believe that the vast majority of people are basically good. I think most people really are trying to come from a place of love. At the very least, they’re doing the best they can given what they know, who they are, and what they’re dealing with. Let me repeat that: Everyone is doing the best they can given what they know, who they are, and what they’re dealing with. No one’s trying to rip me off or take advantage of me. Other people’s grouchiness has little or nothing to do with me. They’re just doing the best they can. And when I remember that and treat people around me as if they’re doing the best they can, it not only makes me feel better and less tense, it also makes them feel better about themselves.
So, I invite you to join me in shifting my assumptions about people. Every time you notice you’re assuming the worst about them, take a deep breath and remember: Everyone is doing the best they can given what they know, who they are, and what they’re dealing with. Try it this week and see what kind of difference it makes for you. And I’d love to hear more of your successes.
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