I don’t know who first said these words but when I read them a few years ago they were very relevant to a problem I had been experiencing in my life.

One of the biggest

mistakes we make

is assuming

other people think

the way we think.

Call me naive, but I used to have a habit of making this mistake and the result of this misconception has been my downfall on several occasions.

I have also seen this belief expose itself in others in some not so pleasant ways.

Case in Point:

While working at a new job, several years ago, another new employee assisted me with resolving a problem. I thanked her thoroughly and enthusiastically for her input and expected her to be equally happy about our joint effort. Instead she looked me flat in the eyes and said, “Right. I won’t say anything when you take all the credit.”

I was shocked by her sudden hostility and pretty sure my chin hit the desk. I pulled myself together and explained I had every intention of sharing the credit. Needless to say she doubted my word and when I followed up on my good word, I received a weird smirk, as though she thought I had only acknowledged her help only because she had “called me out”.

I did not recover very gracefully from that incident and we never became friendly coworkers. Which is too bad because I don’t think either of us were difficult people in anyway, we simply had two very different perspectives or expectations about the situation based on the way we thought or the way previous experiences affected our beliefs.

Once I understood that people do not think the way I do, I also learned to broaden my mind and not make assumptions based upon my own thought processes. I’ve learned I need to get to know others on a deeper level in order to possibly begin to understand how someone else may interpret the same situation, behavior, or event, etc. and respect that their perception could be quite different from my own.

It can be as easy to forget other people do not think as we do and it can be as equally easy to expect others to hold the same beliefs as we do, though unrealistic. And further it is unreasonable to feel that our own way of thinking or our beliefs are more correct.

If we can become more receptive and respectful of others in this way, we might learn something unexpected, even about ourselves. Opening our minds and accepting other perspectives as valid can change the way we approach the world and may improve it, as well.



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