Occasionally, I’ll see someone doing something odd, like blocking traffic to stop to talk to someone. If I don’t recognize them, I tend to think, “Really a dumb move.” But if I know them, I just sit patiently figuring there’s a good reason.
We give people we know the benefit of the doubt because we are familiar with many aspects of their lives: children, jobs, residence, hobbies, relationships, family, possessions, and so on. With the exception of the familiar “pest,” we cut people slack.
I find many consultants immediately assume the buyer is the problem, the organization has communication difficulties, one of the leaders has political motives, the “schoolyard gossip” is accurate, and there are conspiracies against the project. That’s because they don’t know these people and assign malicious motives or inept abilities as their default position.
Get to know people before you psychoanalyze them. You might just find that the benefit of the doubt will create a benefit to your own intervention and results.
© Alan Weiss 2014