A few years ago I challenged myself to become the best version of myself possible. This has been a never-ending and ever-changing journey. The first thing I learned was that change cannot happen all at once. It happens in small incremental steps and must be done one day at a time. Each day I wake up and do one thing that makes me just a tiny bit better than the day before.
One area I spend time exploring are points in my life where things didn’t go as planned. I spend time reflecting there, not to beat myself up, but to see if there’s something I could learn from the situation. Most recently I found myself reflecting on a situation where I experienced an unexpected conflict and it taught me to assume the best in others. I will explain.
Some while back I found myself in conflict with a person, that I wanted to get along with, yet spent the entirety of my interaction with them bickering over opinions on meaningless topics. The more disagreements we had, the more defensive I became and the more guarded I got. Somewhere along the line I assumed this person had it in for me and I thought the worst in them. In return, they assumed the worst in me, and our interactions became a standoff in which neither won. It was both frustrating, and disappointing, and an exercise I would like not to repeat.
Getting better results requires putting forth a better effort. So I’ve begun assuming the best of the people. I’ve let my guard down a bit, and I’m trying to find time and space to make the people in my life feel heard and understood. We all want to feel like we matter, are seen, and heard. More than anything, we want to know that when there’s a problem the people in our life with listen and understand. So I made myself open and listened to people when I did something wrong. Over and over, I listened and adapted. At first it was overwhelming, but soon it was happening everywhere I went. I noticed that when I assumed the best in those people, they assumed the best in me. Assuming the best in others means assuming that when they screw up, they might not have done it on purpose.
Assuming the best in other people empowers me to grant them grace when they’ve had a bad day. It encourages me to ask them if everything is okay when they seem off. And the grace I grant others makes me feel better about myself. All of this brings out the best in me. So what I am saying is that if you want to be the best version of yourself try assuming the best in those around you.
Upon further reflection, I think the person I experienced conflict with, genuinely tried, and I think I did too. I did the best I could with the skills I had. I’m ready to assume the best in that person and maybe myself for having approached the situation with good intentions.
Try assuming that one person you interact with today wants the best for you. If you’ve never done this start small, you’ll be surprised at the results. And just maybe, give me the benefit of the doubt while you are at it, I mean well.