Monday, July 20, 2009

Giving Others the Benefit of the Doubt

In our society, judgment rings as easily as ice cream melts on a hot day. Individuals and groups feel free to label everything and everyone with words of critique. Have you noticed that little Susie is getting chubby? Did you see how much dessert she took? Wealthy people are snobs who don't care about the little guy. Poor people are lazy and don't try hard enough. It is such an accepted part of our culture that one rarely hears an objection, and when someone does object, they immediately become the subject of derisive criticism. Who is this person who dares to spoil our fun? Obviously they must have problems. We start judging and labeling our kids when they are young. Johnny doesn't sleep through the night! He is definitely a rebel who can't hold still. Have you seen how Lisa gobbles her bottle? She needs to learn self control, or she'll grow up to be fat.

The easiest people to judge are those that we don't know personally, particularly those who we consider to be different from us. The wealthy judge the poor. The fat judge the thin. Nearly everyone judges those who we perceive as driving poorly.

Isn't it interesting that no one likes being judged. When judged negatively to one's face, the most common response is defensiveness. Perhaps the better response would be: Is this any of your business?

I propose that we all turn over new leaves and start giving one another the benefit of the doubt. Start with the people in your family. If your husband is home late from work, assume he is caught in traffic. If your child knocks over a vase, assume that it was an accident. Then extend it to others. Your best friend hasn't called in a month? She is probably extra busy at work. Your boss gives the promotion to someone else? That person just may have the right qualities for that job. You are cut off in traffic? No one is perfect! The other drivers are most likely doing the best job that they can of staying safe.

Give others the benefit of the doubt and become responsible for your own life and your own happiness. Leave them to theirs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a very powerful concept. No one will do it - they will just judge you as being a smarty pants. We are all perfect in our own eyes, it's everybody else who has the problem!