This post was supposed to be uploaded yesterday, but I got distracted and didn’t set it from Draft to Published, so, although late, I hope you enjoy it.
I had an interesting call with a friend today that underscored what seemed to be a recurring topic this past month. He had had a great day…until 4pm, at which point a problem arose at his work and he took the right (not expedient) actions to remedy it. He is a contractor who is filling both his normal role on their project, but is also temporarily filling in for his government counterpart on the team. Anyway, he did the ethically correct thing when called about the issue at 4pm. He notified his team and the government team and began working on remediation efforts. About 45 minutes later, his program manager asked him if he would have contacted the government team had he not been temporarily filling the role. He responded with the question, are you questioning my loyalty to the company, to which his boss responded no. He finished the conversation and called me about 30 minutes later, livid, because he felt his boss was insinuating that he should have not notified the government customer and fixed it inside and hope the government didn’t find out about it, which would be an ethical issue. He went from having a great day to being angry with his boss and thinking about quitting his job over the incident.
While I cannot comment on the motive or intentions of his boss, I was struck by how my friend’s perceptions of his boss’ actions colored both his day and his view now of his boss. All too often, I have seen this type of thing happen where we read the worst into communications, be they face to face, e-mail (the worst), text, phone calls, etc. and cause ourselves increased stress and anxiety. We assume the worst in these people we are talking to because we have been wired through media, past experience, etc., to expect people to do the wrong thing. My wife’s former employer used to say “nobody does anything right ever” every time things would go wrong.
It is hard to argue with that mentality when there is a lot of news around people doing the wrong thing, but I have found in my personal experience that most people generally try to do the right thing. They may panic in the moment of a problem and make poor decisions or poor word choices, but that doesn’t necessarily make them bad or nefarious, rather human. This brings me to my point, we generally get what we expect with people. If we expect them to be disappointments or failures, they generally will be, however, the inverse is also true, if we expect them to be greater and better, then they also generally will be. While it can be hard to assume and expect the best of people, it can lessen the adverse impacts on our stress and moods. More importantly, it can help keep a great day good, despite the adversity, rather than turn it into an angry dumpster fire of a day.
Whether you think of it as “the body manifests what the mind harbors”, “what you think about you bring about”, or simply, “assume the best and plan for the worst”, I challenge you next week to try to expect the best from people and situations and see where it takes you. The worst that can happen is that you’ll still end up angry and upset, but you may have been happier getting there.