We are programmed over time to assume the worst.  When’s the last time someone asked you to plan for the “best case scenario” only?  It’s not just events either.  Having lived through life and gotten burned once or twice, we tend to assume the worst in people.  Someone shows up late a few days to the office…he must be slacking off.  Co-worker snaps back at you during a stressful meeting…she must not have any self-control.

Also, she might need some gum (Photo by Evil Erin)

I’m reading a book by Guy Kawasaki called Enchantment and he takes a different approach.  Instead of assuming the worst in people, why not assume the best?  Perhaps the guy showing up late to the office has family issues this week, and he’ll be back on track tomorrow.  The gal that snapped at you might just be having a bad day.  We know that we personally can’t make the best impression on everyone all the time, so why do we assume that all the people we interact with have to put their best foot forward 100% of the time?

Of course, if you work with someone and they have a pattern of detrimental behavior, then yes, you can make conclusions on their personality and behavior.  For a one-time incident, however, try assuming the best in people rather than the worst.  You might be surprised how your interactions (and the net result of your collaboration) might change when you give them the benefit of the doubt.

-Deborah Fike

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