We all struggle with doubt especially when interacting with others. What was their intention? Did they really mean what they said? Why did they act that way today? Can I trust them?
In today’s episode, host Jason Ramsden explores how giving others the benefit of the doubt can improve relationships and also help you become a better person in the process. In sharing a story from his own life, some tips for confronting doubt of others, and what the meaning of a trust loop is, today’s show is focused on making us a better person.
3 Reasons to Give People the Benefit of the Doubt by Steven Handel (theemotionmachine.com)
EP19: Chatter;The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It
EP11: Give and Take by Adam Grant
EP04: The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins
EP02: Find Your Why by Simon Sinek (audio version)
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Hi, I'm Jason Ramsden and I believe we can all work on leading a more positive and intentional life. And this show details my journey by sharing my learning stories and conversations with guests. If you want to lead a more intentional life, focus on being the best you possible, please subscribe today. Now, let's get into today's episode of low positivity posse and welcome back for another episode of positivity on fire. I am your host Jason Ramsden and today we're talking about the benefit of the doubt. Now, this is one of those phrases I think people hear but they're not necessarily sure what it means. So we're gonna go straight to Merriam Webster right off the bat this morning. And that definition of the benefit of the doubt is the state of accepting something or someone as honest or deserving of trust, even though there are doubts. Now, if you're somebody who's been burned in life, many times, you may not want to give people the benefit of the doubt when you hear something from them, or run into a situation. But I think there's an important reason why that we should give people the benefit of the doubt, I like to call it the Bo D. If you think about it for a moment. Okay, here's a great quote, that might put you in the right frame of mind to have this conversation today. Just remember, that everyone you meet, is afraid of something, love something, and has lost something by Ah, Jackson Browne Jr. And I'll say that again, remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, love something and has lost something. So why does this ring true for me? Well, that rings true, because I think I think people should be given the benefit of the doubt, until proven otherwise. And and I say this, because think of it, this, you're driving down the road and somebody comes up speeding, and they cut in and out of your lane and kind of numeron narrowly miss you, but and then they go really fast past you and move on. And they're really I mean, they're booking it. And your first instinct may be to possibly curse at them, flip them the bird, you know, mutter under your breath, or even screaming chat, like, what the heck was that person thinking, and you're going to go right to, hey, they're a bad driver, you're going to convict them of being a bad driver, because of that one interaction when you really don't know them. And you really don't know what's going on. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty good driver. But on Monday, April 9, in 2007, I was a really bad driver. So much so that I was weaving in and out of traffic, ran a red light, and was going upwards of about 100 miles an hour on the highway, heading to our house, I am sure that everybody at that point in time, who saw me probably convicted me of being like the worst driver on the planet, causing that I could cause an accident, I could very well have caused an accident. But the reason I was rushing to do that is that I had gotten a phone call that our house was on fire. And so I was doing my best to get from work to home, to find out the extent of the damage and what was going on and whether or not there were injuries or people who are having trouble with our house being on fire. You know, I am basically driving like a lunatic to get home. And I'm sure many people did not give me the benefit of the doubt that day, on the highway or on the street as I was driving at excessive speeds to get there. But that's probably the reason I'm have really focused on giving people the benefit of the doubt. And I always have to a certain degree, because you just never know you have no idea what somebody is going through in that moment in that day before you have crossed paths with them. Now, I'm not saying that you know, when you meet new people that you just trust, blindly trust people blindly, and take everything that they have to say, as fact. But I do believe that you need to give people the benefit of the doubt rather than be cynical about everything and everyone that you meet or that you come in contact with. If you really don't know someone, you're I don't think you should assume that they are a bad person until proven otherwise. Or you should assume that they have good intent that they're good people until you can gauge the relationship. And yes, there's plenty of people out there who are bad actors, they will take advantage of you. their intent is not good. And quite frankly, they probably don't care about you or your well being. But I think that's a very small percentage of people on this planet. And I do believe there's a big difference between being cautious and just outright. not believing in somebody. It's okay to be cautious. I'm not saying that you shouldn't be around new folks when you meet them or start to interact with people who are new clients or new business partners, or new vendors, people who come into your life for a variety reasons. But giving folks the benefit of the doubt until they prove you wrong isn't I think an important part of being open to the idea that we don't know what's going on in somebody's life at a given moment in time. Now, there are three reasons. And I think, three good reasons that you should give people the benefit of doubt, this comes straight from an article I found by Steve handout, on V motion machine calm. So number one, we have a tendency to overestimate internal versus external factors when observing other people's actions. And this is exactly what I was talking about before about giving people a better than out, we don't know what's going on in their lives. This particular piece is when someone makes a mistake, alright, someone in your life makes a mistake, whether they're known to not known to you, perhaps they're casually known to you, whatever it may be, when they make a mistake, we tend to have a tendency or se, towards believing that it's caused by that, like, it's something inherent to them as a person, there's something wrong with them as a person, as opposed to it was something that was brought on by a situation in your life. So going back to the instance of me, driving like a lunatic. It wasn't I'm not normally that way. It's not built into my personality to drive crazy like that, no, there was a situation going on my house was on fire. And so that was an external factor that was temporarily affecting my actions. As a person. When we do this, when we look at somebody, and we actually attribute something that's going on, if that's a psychological fact known as the fundamental attribution error, and it's a bias that we have in people. So in order to overcome it, this particular article, actually, there's three things you have to ask yourself, one, if I was in this person's shoes, with their knowledge and expertise, would I have acted differently? Or what I have continued on the course same course of action? To what environmental factors may have influenced this person's actions? Which I might not be No, no, about? I have no no clue about that. And that was certainly the case for me on that day, when I was driving home, and then three, would most people behave this way if they were in a similar situation? So is it abnormal behavior? Or is it something that we haven't seen before? Or, you know, do people possibly act this way, in the same situation, I would guarantee if your house was on fire, you would have you know, been a bad driver, and probably made a lot of people angry as you're trying to get home to, to your house. So this wraps itself up into it a technique basically, around practicing empathy called perspective taking. So when you can answer the three questions that we talked about before, if I was in this person's shoes, what other factors are going on? And then what would somebody in similar situation do if you take the perspective of somebody else, when you when you take the time to give somebody the benefit of the doubt, and wonder from their perspective, what may be may be going on? I think it makes your interactions with people and life a little bit better. Alright, so number two, our beliefs about people can create a kind of self fulfilling prophecy. So think about when you're, when you're considering your interactions with somebody, if you're looking for positive feedback, or negative feedback on interactions with people, many of our beliefs and expectations about the world result in this kind of of a loop, whether it's positive or negative. And I think that really comes into play more than anything else is in terms of relationships. Think about it for a moment, like if you meet somebody through somebody else, and that other person is kind of give you a little background on the person. And they happen to say, Hey, you know what, this, this person is a better unselfish person. So you go into that interaction with that preconceived notion, and you're a little bit closed off, then, you know, when that person reciprocates to you a little bit of emotional distance. in that conversation, you would say to yourself, hey, gosh, that person is a better and selfless person. They're guarded. But what if they're just introverted? What if the person who introduced you has only known them for a short amount of time, and they don't know everything that's going on in the life of that person. Maybe that person has had a death in the family, maybe that person is dealing with something horrific in their life, perhaps they have something going on that you have no idea about, and they're normally a jovial and outgoing person. But in this moment in time, their actions are shaded by something that's going on that we don't know about. And for good or for bad. Unfortunately, our social lives are totally full of these types of self fulfilling beliefs. And they are they are both positive and they are negative. And so that's why giving somebody the benefit of the doubt is just, I think it's an important way to kind of reverse the cycle of cynicism. When we interact with people, I think you'd really be surprised by how much you can change a relationship, when you give somebody the benefit of the doubt. And then what it does is it sets up, it sets up a different set of beliefs and expectations for yourself and for other people, when you think about giving people the benefit of the doubt, and number three, giving people the benefit of the doubt, teaches us how to forgive ourselves for our own mistakes. So going back to the case of me, and traveling like a lunatic driving crazy to get to a house that was on fire that nobody knew about, except for the people who were in proximity. And myself, my wife, it gave me now a sense of I just don't know, is that person really driving crazy? That's how they always operate? Or is there a loved one in the hospital? Who's on their deathbed? Is there a child at home that's injured, and they're trying to get home to their child? Or is their house on fire? No idea. Absolutely no idea you're not in their shoes in that moment, you don't know what's going on in their life at that moment in time. And when you start to give other people the benefit of the doubt, guess who else you can give benefited out to? Yeah, yourself, you can give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Self forgiveness is a huge thing in life. And once you learn to do that, once you learn to give yourself forgiveness, give yourself the benefit of the doubt in the work that you do. And the relationships that you have, you start to realize that you know, we're all a work in progress, we all are working towards hopefully being better people, hopefully learning from our mistakes, and moving forward in a way that shows that you know what, everybody on this planet is human, there is no perfection. And we all have trials and tribulations in our lives that we're trying to work on that we're trying to get through. And that we're trying to overcome. And the truth is when you when you don't give other people the benefit of doubt, when you hold other people to a higher standard than you hold yourself, that's just a straight up hypocrisy. You know, at that point, you're a hypocrite. If you believe that you need to hold other people to a higher standard than you hold yourself, you're not going down a good path, do kind of self love to working on yourself to being a better person, you can't hold other people to higher standards than that to what you hold yourself. So when you become gentle or, or, you know, softening your judgments towards others, you'll do the same for yourself as well. And you, you just might find that you become a happier person, when you're less judgmental of others when you hold yourself to the same standards that you hold other people to. And also, when you give other people and yourself the benefit of the doubt, there's like this calm of understanding that washes over you. So how do we take all of this and kind of wrap it up into this great little bow? Of what can I do this in my own life? Like how can I make use of giving people the Bo D the benefit of the doubt? In my own life? What does that really really look like? It kind of turns into something called the vulnerability loop. This is where it puts you like this is how it works in your life. You show trust other people, they recognize it, they reciprocate, you recognize it. And when you take that trust loop, like when you start to use the trust, then you move through, okay, so there's really three different types of people, right, there's people who are cynical, and they believe that people are guilty or suspect until proven otherwise. There are people who are charitable on the other side, they're going to assume that the best of everyone like the intent is everybody's intent is wonderful, until proven attitude wise. And then there's people who give people the benefit of the doubt, and they're not going to assume a bad intent until proven otherwise, they're going to give people the benefit of the doubt, they're gonna take a little bit time to think about the relationship and whether or not it's something that is truly a good thing or is truly a bad thing. So going back to putting this practice in to our own lives. So first, just stop, stop, Think for a moment, elevate yourself out of the situation and think for a moment. Do I have all the information on this particular scenario? like do I really know everything that's going on with the other person in terms of why they're operating the way they're operating right now? Number two, have I ask clarifying questions. Okay, so this works in the case of people that are known to you. Have you ask clarifying questions about what's going on? Are you double checking, checking in with that person to make sure that you fully understand what's taking place and three after Ask clarifying questions like, put yourself in their shoes. What does it look like if you put yourself in those shoes now that you have some more facts, and that you understand what may or may not be going on? Would you have acted similarly? Do you know that for a fact, do you know whether or not you would have had the same reaction? And how can you have empathy for that person? Like once you know a little bit more about the situation? Can you empathize with what they're going through? And if you can't empathize with them, can you sympathize with them to understand that not everybody has a good day, not everybody's in a good spot? mentally, there are other factors at play. Not everyone is intrinsically bad, or consistently cynical, or consistently not a good person, there are more than not, there are external factors at play that we have no idea about. And then I would just take it back, right? Back to the definition of benefit of the doubt, the state of accepting something or someone as honest or deserving of trust, even though there are doubts. give people the VOD. That's, that's how I keep it in my head. That's even at work. When I work with my team. I tell them, you know, I give people the Bo D, we have no idea why they're struggling with a tech call, why they're having an issue in that moment. No idea. But give them the benefit of the doubt. be empathetic to people situations. And just sometimes just give them a break. And if you can't do that, just go back to the opening quote. Remember, everyone you meet is afraid of something. They love something and they have lost something. And oftentimes those three things, drive people's actions over and over and over again. I hope today's episode has been helpful to you. I hope the things that you learned today I kind of put things in perspective when dealing with others. And if you want to continue the dialogue, reach out, send me an email, what are you struggling with, send it to Jason at positivity on fire calm. Let's get into a conversation. Let's see if we can't work together to kind of get you over any hurdles you may have and dealing with other people's, you know, mindset matters. And I'd be happy to help in any way that I can. And you know, as we close today's show, thank you for being here. Your gift of time does it really does mean the world to me, there is no greater gift than the time that you spend with me and the content in my show that that I have here. So every time he spent 20 minutes with me is important to me. And just to always remember be well be happy, be you and until the next time may your quest for positivity begin today. If you liked today's episode, please go to pod chaser.com search for positivity on fire and leave a five star rating and review. For more on my positivity quest. 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