Have you had any curt or odd responses from friends or colleagues in the past few weeks? Not really surprising in this current environment. A friend provided a very prescient statement: “A “hello” is now like jumping out from behind an isle and scaring someone”.
We can all agree the world feels strange right now.
So often, we assume our questions or actions have a direct influence on someone’s behavior.
When this takes place, do you stop and think that maybe they snapped because of a negative emotion they are experiencing which is completely unrelated to you?
With so much talk of infections & deaths, it isn’t hard to understand that fear and personal circumstances are driving their response. Yet we often take these negative responses as personal and with ill will.
Let me break it to you! You play a much smaller roll in other’s stories than you think. When someone is upset or responds in an odd way, it’s rarely something you have done.
Hanlon’s Razor is an expression for taking a step back to clearly understand the scenarios we are playing in our heads that have nothing to do with us. It is eloquently stated as:
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”
So in the case of my recent occurrence, I can replace the word stupidity with situations that have nothing to do with me like: stress, fatigue, laziness, ignorance, misunderstanding.
When you use this mental model, it allows you to better understand why you may have gotten a response that you felt was uncalled for or inappropriate.
Since others’ behaviors have often little to do with us, this gives an opportunity change the narrative in our minds by:
1) Being empathetic. We are all complex and dealing with our own issues. When you view the other party in this light you can be more understanding that you are separate from their story.
2) Asking questions. Especially during a time of fear and paranoia, its best not to make assumptions. By asking questions or even changing the topic you can maybe get a better sense of why they have been the subject of “bad acting”
When we take these steps, it helps us to understand that most people are genuinely good natured. By being empathetic, you assume the best intentions for everyone you meet and engage with.
Taking a more optimistic view and using Hanlon’s Razor will not only help to explain the world around you, it will provide you with more positive moments each day.
Have a great weekend, Karl
+ Quote: “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” Anaïs Nin