You know I love quotes and mantras. Well here’s another one that a colleague of mine shared with me recently. Thank you Mark!
It comes from Jordan Petersen, “Don’t assume malevolence, when ignorance will suffice.”
First of all we’d better define malevolence. Without consulting the dictionary, in this context for me it means, don’t assume malice. Don’t expect that someone is intentionally wanting to hurt you in some way.
When you combine it with, “When ignorance will suffice”, my interpretation is that the other is not even aware of the effect they are having on you. The meaning of ignorance is to not know something.
Okay, so why the English lesson?
These words remind us to not jump to conclusions. They remind us that our suffering is caused by one thing and one thing only and that is our thinking. They remind us to not get caught up in what Loretta Malandro calls Automatic Listening, where we make stuff up based on a reaction and judgement we have to a situation and then we create a story and look for evidence to predict the future and prove ourselves right. In NLP, we call it mindreading.
We do this from a very young age and for many, the ignorant ones, they continue into old age. But not you! You know better.
Here’s an example:
Christine was venting to her colleague about her manager. “He’s horrible, Shirley. He never asks me how I’m going or if there is anything I need? He’s just not interested in me at all.”
“Do you know that for a fact?” I asked.
“Well, that’s what he does”, she replied.
“Yes, that’s what he does. Do you know for sure that he is not interested in you or your work?”
“No, I suppose I don’t know for sure. But he’s horrible.”
“Yes, I understand that’s what you think. How about you ask him what he is thinking?” I encouraged her.
The following week she reported in. “You were right”, she said.
Now that was an interesting comment because I had simply asked her to ask her boss a question.
“He thought that because my personality profile was a Driver or Director (depending on the profiling system you use), he assumed that I wouldn’t want to talk about what was happening for me or what I needed. In fact, he was very interested. He was actually holding himself back, thinking that that was what I wanted.”
“Well, there you go. Don’t assume malevolence, when ignorance will suffice.”
Your turn! What situation have you recently reacted to and decided the other was acting from malicious intentions?
How about you go and have that conversation and check it out and save yourself the angst and grief of reacting to what you’re making up.
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