He introduced me to his colleague as “one of the leaders in his industry.”Later in private he told me what a “great” person his colleague is. Three months later not only they are not talking, but both are bad mouthing each other. What makes us love someone then decide we do not love them anymore?
This problem arises whenever there is an underlying assumption about the person, leading to assumptions about behavior. For example, if you start thinking of someone like this: “she is a great person,” then you assume that so all her actions will reflect greatness. These are very tough shoes to fill. Who would want his actions to be judged based on such a wrong assumption? All of us make mistakes. All humans are capable of good and evil. All of us err. So, to assume that someone does not immediately makes it easy for one to get disappointed for making a wrong assumption.
I read a book a long while ago, by Miguel Ruiz. Whenever I am faced with this scenario of sudden switch from love to hate or respect to disrespect I am reminded of one of the “Four Agreements” he mentions in his book, which carries the same title. The “agreements” are things you agree with yourself to do or not to do and most of them mentally and attitude wise. One of the agreements he talks about is to “never make assumptions.” He says that when we make assumptions about people, that is when we get in trouble. So I assume that he can do the job I asked him to do, or assume that he knew what he was talking about, or even assume that he will never lie or deceive me. All of these types of assumptions are the ones that get us in trouble and into disappointment in others.
Remembering this keeps us away from idolizing people, or assuming they cannot make mistakes. Then, a disappointment in someone is a disappointment in their behavior, knowing that they are still capable of doing good, if they choose to. Then, we stop judging them and label them because of the mistakes they make, and instead we label the mistakes and the behavior, not the people. According to Ruiz, this makes for a better relationship with others, and saves one disappointments in others.
At work, I often hear the words “I am so disappointed. I thought he was better than doing a job like this.” This is disappointment from making assumptions about people and how they will behave. Then a manager might even make it more personal and spends the day, if not more, in agony over how someone could do this to them. A better option might be recognizing the mistake as a mistake in behavior, even if not expected. It is much easier to move on judging the behavior not the person.
There is an old Arab saying “Men are known from the truth, but the truth is not known from men.” This means that men are judged by their behavior and statement; whether they seek the truth or not, at any one point in time. However, the truth is the truth and it is not defined by the person who speaks it. So, we cannot assume something to be the truth just because someone said it. All people make mistakes.