It’s so easy to misinterpret others’ actions and intentions.
Unfortunately, we usually read negativity into those intentions, rather than staying positive.
Earlier this summer at about the same time every day, a robin flew to the top of a light pole just outside my porch. He would puff out his chest and look around like he was saying, “hey world, look at me!”
Then he would hop down and find a worm and go back to that light pole – proud and cocky with the worm hanging out of his beak, saying “Look how great I am, I got a big fat worm!”
I imagined that he was showing off for all the other birds.
Then one day, I noticed a baby robin below the light pole, and he (well, maybe she) feeding that worm to the baby. So now, maybe the conversation should have been, “I’m checking to make sure it’s safe before I take this big fat worm to my baby.”
How many times do we wrongly assume things about others’ intentions and cause unnecessary conflict?
Have you thought (or even said), “Sally did that on purpose just to annoy me,” when Sally had no idea you would even be affected by her actions? Or “Joe walked right past without acknowledging me,” when Joe was focused on something else and didn’t see you. Or maybe he didn’t have his glasses on. And yet you reacted angrily.
What if we focus on consistently assuming the best in people and reacting in a positive way?
Victim thinking such as “she hates me so that’s why she did that,” or “he’s a jerk because he did that to me” gets us nowhere. We can confront that person, or react negatively, or we can just let it go and stay above the fray.
How different your world would look if you thought the best of your team. Or your customers or clients. Or your family. It might it have a compounding effect on subsequent reactions to them.
In the case of that robin, I saw arrogance instead of caring. When have I made that same mistake with my team members?
How can you avoid misjudging peoples’ motives? How could that improve your interactions today?