6.8.11

Don't Presume

Recently, some things have happened that make me wonder what others are thinking.  I'm talking about the presumptions we have about other's thoughts, ideas, motivations, etc. despite evidence to the contrary.

Here's an example: Person A screens their calls, using Caller ID and an answering machine.  Person B calls but the Caller ID shows "out of area" (or "blocked call" or something similar), so Person A doesn't pick up.  Person B then takes umbrage that their call went to voice mail, despite being told by Person A that would happen.  Huh?  If Person B knows that will happen and wants to avoid it, they could e-mail saying they'll call at a specific time, or find some other way of letting Person A know when they're trying to call so that the call will be picked up.

Another example: Person A is holding a party.  Persons B and C aren't on the best terms, so Person A asks Person B if they should invite Person C.   Miss Manners would suggest that Person A invite both B and C, under the assumption that they'll behave because they both like A and they're adults.  Besides, if C finds out that A (with whom they though they had a good relationship) allowed B to make the decision, won't that ruin the A-C connection?

A third example: Person A says "my knees hurt" - Person B shouldn't then decide that A has the exact same problem with their knees that B has.  It could be osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, a simple strain, or any number of other things.  Telling A that they're treating their knees incorrectly doesn't help A at all.

Or what about Person A loving kabuki, while Person B has no interest whatsoever.  Person A's insistence that B come to shows will only create stress in the relationship.

And finally, Person A suffers a loss or is going through a stress-filled stretch.  They say they really don't want to talk about it - yet Person B insists on calling and talking, while Person C sends funny cards just to say they're there, whenever Person A needs.  Guess which on Person A will finally open up to?

Reality is, we're all different.  The medical, physical and emotional things that trouble me are not the same as those that trouble any one else - they may be close, but they're not the same.  And the way in which I deal with things is different than the way others deal with them.  That doesn't make my way right, and yours wrong, it just means that they're different.

My claim isn't to perfection in this area, but my goal is to get better about presuming that what I need or want or feel in a situation is what others need or want or feel, and to assume that adults can be - and act like - adults (difficult as that may be to believe on a daily basis).  The stress of doing otherwise is mental clutter I just don't need, do you?

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