The other day I was stopped at an intersection and noticed to my left a somewhat poor looking older man holding papers. I knew from speaking to others like him before that he was with a program that helps homeless earn money by selling the papers to people at intersections. However, this time something else caught my attention.
While he was standing there, instead of actively selling his papers, he was instead looking down at his phone and texting. My first thought was, “How does he have enough money to have a phone and a texting plan? That seems like a waste of good funds for his situation.” But then I quickly drew those thoughts back in and gave him (though he was not asking for it) the benefit of the doubt.
We All Need Benefit Of The Doubt
Benefit Of The Doubt is defined on Dictionary.com as a favorable opinion or judgment adopted despite uncertainty. You see, THAT is the way we should always look at a situation. Unfortunately, many of us default to the negative side first until evidence is full given to prove otherwise.
Though my first thought was to question that man, I still captured my opinion and opted to think favorably about him. I wasn’t familiar with his situation and I didn’t know how he had a phone. But what I do know is that if I always walk around with negative perceptions of others, then my life will be full of negative people (or at least how I view them).
After thinking about it for a minute, I realized that there could be many reasons that gentleman had a phone. Some could be:
- A friend is helping him get on his feet and has offered to pay for a phone to stay in contact.
- There is a free program that he is eligible for that helps those trying to better themselves.
- He has a second job that helps with funds.
- He has another legitimate means of acquiring the phone and it is helping him find another job.
On The Receiving End
There was another time that benefit of the doubt helped me. This time, it was given to me rather than me giving it to someone else. Without it, things could have gotten bad for no reason.
To put it very short, back in college I was working with my boss on a project and we were joking around. I do not recall the actual words said but I remember that it was a humorous conversation. However I did notice her look at me funny at one point, but I thought nothing of it.
She later came back and asked me what I had meant by one of my replies. Again, I don’t remember the words but what I do know is that what she thought I meant and what I actually meant was nothing close!
The thing is, she easily could have gotten angry and held animosity towards me the rest of my days there. But she didn’t. She gave me the benefit of the doubt and asked me politely what I meant. Thank goodness she did!
Think About This
Friend, how many times have you missed an opportunity to think better of someone and found out you were wrong? I know I have missed many of them in my life. However, I want us to always be determined to not miss any more!
Giving people the benefit of the doubt impacts your life and theirs at the same time. It not only changes your thoughts about them but it alters your way of thinking about others. It has a side effect of positive perceptions that lasts.
Today, start trying to see the good in others and search for the positive in them. Hand out benefit of the doubt freely. And don’t worry. Even if it turns out they were in the wrong, at least you were in the right.