Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The “Other-Reasons” Rule

A few years back, I remember hearing someone say that before you assume that someone is angry with you, you should think of 12 other reasons why that person could be angry. In doing so, you remove the tension from a situation and you are better able to approach that angry person without a big chip on your own shoulder.

I like the “Other-Reasons” rule. And I think it’s applicable in many situations. There have to be at least 12 Other Reasons for a lot of things. And if not 12 reasons, then at least 3.

For example, there must be 3 other reasons why the girl at the next table just snarled in your direction. Perhaps the shot she just did with her 6 drunken friends had a sweet and sour punch for which she was not prepared. Or maybe her thong reached new depths as she wriggled up onto her chair. Or it could be possible that she is just a miserable, unhappy human being. Chances are it has nothing to do with you. So, before you confront her, think of 3 other reasons why she just snarled in your direction.

It is entirely possible that there are at least 3 other reasons why the bagger at the grocery store continues to smash your bread when he bags your groceries. It very well could be that you are an ungrateful, impolite shopper who deserves smashed bread. Or that the little bagger enjoys irritating you. But the reason may also be that the bagger is distracted by his struggle to meet his parents’ approval and your bread is the last thing on his mind. Or maybe the store owner is a little tight in the wallet and isn’t paying that bagger squat. And, perhaps that bagger lacks training. It is altogether possible that the smashed bread has nothing to do with you.

There are probably 101 reasons why the guy you like doesn’t like you back so we won’t get into all of them. I don’t feel fully prepared to dissect the psychosis of the male mind anyway. But it may have NOTHING to do with you. You are after all an intelligent, funny, talented woman. Everybody loves you. So don’t listen to others who tell you he is out of your league. Maybe he is blind… IT’S POSSIBLE. Or maybe he is incapable of recognizing a good thing when he sees it; he’s a glutton for punishment who prefers women who sponge off of him and treat him like crap. And it could be that he’s just an idiot. (I realize that in this example I used the OBVIOUS reasons but I wanted to bring this idea to a more simplistic and obvious level.)

Again, there is a moral to this story. And I think the moral is more than just: We should give others the benefit of the doubt. While the idea of the “Other-Reasons” Rule is simple, the moral is a bit more complicated. It is three-fold. One, GIVE OTHERS THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. Two, THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK OR ACT. And, three, IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT YOU.

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