It’s not a straightforward exercise to figure out from where and how our assumptions come to us. Life experience, family, friends, teachers, observations, gossip, others’ tales, and a wide range of variables have an impact on our thinking. How we interpret peoples’ words, actions, behaviours, attitudes, etc. leads us to act and react in ways that are based on our assumptions – not necessarily on what is actually intended. Conflict can easily arise from erroneous perceptions and misinterpretations. Unexplored attributions are antithetical to any effort to master conflict responses.
Sometimes what we read into a statement or action may differ depending on the person. That is, we may overlook, make excuses for, or smile at something done or said by a dear friend and not make negative assumptions about his or her motives. Whereas, we may read ill intent into the same statement or action by someone we don’t know or like for some reason.
This aspect of conflict mastery, like others, has many layers to it and this blog provides an opportunity to examine any tendency to attribute motives to others that they may not own. To answer this week’s questions, consider a situation in which you are interpreting someone’s words or actions in negative ways: