Why Not Judge Favorably?
As the light turned green, a car heading in my direction caused me to wait before making my left turn. Suddenly, before he reached me, he turned left and was on his way. Never signaled. Had he done so, as would have been appropriate, I could have taken my left a bit quicker.
No big deal. So, why do I bring this up?
Because, I caught myself thinking the worst of him. “Why didn’t he signal!?” “What an inconsiderate jerk!?” “Rude!” “Did he do that just to tick me off or was he just so wrapped up in himself that he didn’t care to signal!?”
Then, I caught myself. I realized I was assuming the worst without knowing anything for sure.
How could I possibly know that his non-signal had anything whatsoever to do with any mal-intent? And, who does it serve to assume it did? Certainly, not I. As for him, if it was, he didn’t care. And, if it wasn’t, he wouldn’t know it bothered me anyway.
The point: Why not judge favorably? Most people, at least most of the time, are pretty decent and don’t mean any harm. Not to mention it’s healthier for us to think the best of others.
It’s also more practical!
I mean, think about it. The other driver could have been thoughtless or inconsiderate.
He could have been in deep thought about a family challenge.
He could have been on the way to the hospital (which is around the corner) and thinking about the sick relative he was on the way to visit.
He’s about to be foreclosed upon and was in deep thought about his options.
He was on the phone and couldn’t reach his turn signal.
Or a huge variety of additional reasons.
Most of these possible reasons are in no way justifiable excuses for not signaling. However, any of them would certainly depersonalize what he did as well as show that it was due to human error rather than any type of negative intent.
Have you ever misjudged someone’s intent and later found out you were wrong? Has someone ever done that to you?
And, even if we really never do find out what the person’s intent truly was, why not just judge favorably? It hurts no one, helps everyone, and simply makes a lot more sense.