How quickly many people tend to do this really bugs me sometimes, whether it’s in our everyday lives interacting with others around us or having to do with things we hear in the news or wherever else.
One recent example coming to mind from the news would be reading a headline about a local cop who supposedly fled the scene of a hit-and-run accident that took place in a parking garage. The fact that the media is so quick to report stories with so little information and sometimes put their own spin on things is partly to blame, but with just the headline and basic information reported, it was natural to assume the officer purposely fled the scene for some reason. His side of the story is that he hit a woman who he didn’t see because she had been walking out from behind a large pillar while he swerved to miss a car that suddenly turned in front of him, he got out and asked if she was OK and told her he was with the police and would help her after he parked his car, and then had to park a little ways away. By the time he returned, she was gone. That’s a completely different situation than what the headline eluded to.
That happens all the time where someone is painted out to have done something wrong before his or her side of the story is gathered. We are so quick to jump on the bandwagon and condemn people with so little information, too. And once those opinions are formed, we are reluctant to change them. People should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, but it seems to be human nature that we often assume the worst rather than consider other possibilities before we know the whole story. It’s like we’re looking to see the worst in people. Why is that?
In relationships, so many people are quick to assume their significant other is cheating on them as soon as something seems out of the ordinary. Often times the person is wrong and it was something else like a surprise was being planned, the person was having health issues, they were stressing out about something, they were putting in extra hours at work, they were avoiding the person because they were afraid to bring up a particular topic, or any number of other possibilities.
My immediate family all seem to jump to conclusions frequently just in everyday conversations, They often think they know what another person is going to say, that the other person is doing or saying something on purpose to bother them, that there is some hidden message or negative implication in what is being said, or that someone is accusing them of something rather than just gathering information. I am guilty of these things too from time to time. It’s so easy to think you know what’s coming or what’s intended and so hard to just listen without thinking about what you are going to say or read more into what is being said or done.
It is so very important to give people the benefit of the doubt, whether is in how we communicate or the conclusions we draw about the people we know and the people we don’t know. It’s something it seems most of us need to consciously think about a lot more than we currently do.
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