For the first post here I wanted to talk about the assumptions we make. Often in life we'll make assumptions on people, there situations, what they're thinking, how they feel...etc
We'll do this based on the small amount of information that is presented to us. On the surface you may all ready be jumping ahead and thinking
'So what? what's the big deal if I have thoughts and opinions? It's not harming anyone right!?' What you may not be aware of is that these thoughts and opinions will have a direct impact on you. They have impact on the way you feel, the way you think, behave and the way others will perceive you. Think how often someones else's actions have effected you in your day to day life.
Imagine a young woman who is working in an office, she is sitting at her desk her manager/boss walks in. She turns to her boss and says 'Hello' and asks them how they are today. They boss then replies.
'Have you completed the report yet that I asked you todo yesterday?'
From this small amount of information it's hard not to start making some assumptions on the boss. Maybe the woman in the office thinks any of the following;
- He / She does't like her
- He / She does't respect her
- He / She is angry today and taking it out on them
- He / She is controlling with work / micromanaging
- That He / She is just an arsehole
- He / She isn't interested in being friendly with office workers
- He / She think they are above them
These are just some of the thoughts that someone may think after the response the boss gave to the friendly 'How are you today?' question they asked. If we now look at some of those thoughts we can now see how all of those would effect the office workers thoughts, feelings and actions. Taking one of those assumptions at random 'He / She does't respect me' lets start imagining what that could do to the woman who works in the office. She may start thinking the boss is; - Unkind
- Disrespectful - Doesn't care for her or other workers in the office
This may make her feel;
- Worried for her job/position
- Feeling low and demotivated
The actions she may now take;
- Show attitude towards her boss
- Talk behind there back to co-workers
- Start considering new jobs or start looking for a new job
- Take out there anger on others (co-workers, partner, family or friends)
- Say something they regret to there boss
- Not finish as much work due to her demotivated feelings
As you can see there is potential for things to go bad just from a comment and what we perceive from that and what we assume about a person from that comment.
Now, my challenge to you is to think about 2-3 occasions in your life where something like this has happened to you. Has it been in the car with another driver? Someone in a shop? Or maybe someone at work? I want you to consider, did you make an assumption without knowing the full story? Did that assumption affect your thoughts? Did it affect how you felt, maybe towards that person? Did it make you act in a certain way?
Don't worry if you have, we all have. I just want to start making you aware of it. If we go back to our example of the woman in the office. What if she had considered all the other possibilities on why her boss had ignored her question and just asked if she had completed the report.
- Maybe the boss didn't hear the question.
- They might of received some bad news (passing away of family member, a break up, financial issue...etc) and now they aren't in the mood to talk.
- Perhaps the boss is receiving pressure or stress from someone else in the company and the delay on the report isn't helping.
- Maybe he / she missed breakfast and is hangry
- Maybe they are tired, didn't sleep the night before because there kid was up all night unwell.
- Just heard that he / she has to fire someone later that day.
You're probably getting it by now. It could be one of a thousand of reasons. We can't possibly know. We don't know if it's because of us of if it's it's something todo with them. Do you think that if the woman who works in the office found out that her bosses mother had died over the weekend she would still fell angry, confused or hurt by there reaction? Probably not. If anything she would probably feel sorry for them and have sympathy towards them and be forgiving towards them. Which ultimately will allow her to think, feel and act more positively not feeling that the behaviour was directed at her.
What I would like you to take away from this article is that everyday we are constantly experiencing things that we may not like. Because of this we let these situations effect our thoughts and feelings. If we take a moment to understand that we can't possibly know all the details, we only have our experience, point of view and our assumptions.
Take a moment and consider how many other options there are, and how the way you're thinking, feeling and reacting is only from one story. The one you've assumed. Just by taking the time to realise that you're perspective or assumption isn't the only story will help you feel more calm and less reactive in certain situations. As this article comes to a close consider the 2-3 situations I asked you to think about earlier. Think about the other stories you may have not considered, the other perspective, the different options. See how it makes you feel. I hope this is something you start actively doing in your life and you feel and notice the difference it makes!