How to Give People the Benefit of The Doubt
We have all been there, going over the speed limit and still having someone tailgate you, a rude waitress, an overly-complaining co-worker, etc. There are many annoying things in life that come from other people. How often do we get frustrated, angry and let it ruin our day?
These irritating things do not have to seep under our skin. A solution, aside from just trying your best to be patient and nice, goes by the rule, “Benefit of the Doubt”. This is a very useful and more peaceful way of handling difficult situations and people.
First of all, you need to assess the situation and what your reaction could be. You may feel frustrated, angry or full of rage, depending on the particular incident.
Right after something happens, you should try to take a deep breath and avoid indulging in your initial reaction. You cannot help your instinctual emotions, but by feeding into them you are escalating the situation and it will be difficult to follow the next steps in giving a person the benefit of the doubt.
Put a story with the person. This story can be as ridiculous or as practical as you want. Are you being tailgated? Maybe the driver is late for his daughter's first ballet recital. Is the waitress extremely rude? Maybe her boyfriend just broke up with her or her rent is past due, and she has been working double shifts for the last three days. These probably won't be the real triggers of their behaviour, but the point is we never know what is truly going on in someone's life.
Be patient and kind, regardless of the real story behind the behaviour. Is a co-worker complaining and snapping at everyone? Try bringing them a card, flowers or chocolate. Once again, you never know what is going on in their life to cause the behaviour, even if it is as simple as not getting enough sleep.
If you use kindness instead of retaliating, the situation will not ruin your day or give you a bad attitude. Even if the person does not appreciate your patience right away, they will in the long-run and you will be one less person getting mad at them. This is always helpful when someone is already having a bad day.