Presumption

The beast towered above the men
Whose pitchforks prodded in outrage
It viciously growled in order to send
Them back to where crowds came
The child was stuck atop the tree
They couldn’t abandon their young
Wielding torches, they yelled and screamed
Flames flickered from every tongue
The beast dropped back to shield its face
Then stared at the boy cornered
Its monstrous paw lifted and raised
The villagers gasped in horror
With a smile and squeal of delight
The child leaped on to the hand
With virtuous care, gentle and light
The beast kneeled down to the land
He ran to his father standing speechless
The beast exhaled a knowing sigh
It slowly rose up and turned to leave them
Quietly stomping into the night

 

Don’t jump to conclusions.

Expect the worst in someone and you will most likely receive it. You have already made a judgment about how they are going to act, so why should they go through the trouble of proving you wrong? Expect the best in someone, however, and that faith will be received with humility. The individual is more likely to want to prove that they can live up to that positive image. Note that this faith is not the same as encouragement. Vacuous words telling someone to give it their best shot is quite different from actually believing that they will be able to step up to the challenge. The difference is palpable, and will be felt by the recipient.

When someone has done something wrong, or incorrectly, or bad, or negative in any way, approaching them with the presumption that it was deliberate will be received with spite. In addition, their response will be to reciprocate by actively searching for your mistakes and vilifying you for them. You have approached them with condescension, and a connotation that you would never do such a thing. On the other hand, if the benefit of the doubt is given, the response will be much more positive. If you presume they probably made a mistake, that you recognize it was an innocent mistake, and that you could’ve made the same mistake yourself, it will be received with an eagerness to correct it and a willingness to forgive you when it happens to you. And it will happen to you.

Prematurely jumping to conclusions can also backfire. It may be the case that what you perceived as a mistake was not a mistake at all. You were missing important information that in the end made you look like a fool. It is easy to immediately seek validation for blame in someone else. It is more prudent to take a step back, discover the facts in a way that is not intrusive or arrogant, and make sure you are reaching the right conclusion.

This point about arrogance is an interesting one to explore. A sense of superiority underlies an initial negative assumption about someone else. A sense of perfection underlies a lack of any negative assumption about your own self. Both stem from a desire to be recognized as such. When you can rid yourself of this preoccupation, and focus on how you are able to bring out the best in a person through an interaction, you will find much greater reward. Entering it with arrogance will only serve as a seed for resentment, and will counteract the positive way you wish to be perceived. Be humble enough to be proven wrong, and gentle enough to prove you’re right.

 

Situational Questions

  • If you come across someone who fits a physical stereotype, do you expect them to act in accordance with that stereotype? What if you flipped your reaction and expected them not to validate the stereotype? How might your interaction with them be different?
  • When given a piece of information, does your mind wander to the worst consequences of it? Are you able to wait for all the facts to be available before reacting? Do you let others’ interpretations influence yours, or can you trust in your own ability to extract the truth?

 

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