How we interpret things plays a crucial role in where our time, energy, and attention goes. While it can be very clear to know what our intentions are, how often do we consider what someone else’s intention might be?
What we believe is another’s “intention” determines how we perceive the tone of an email, text, social media post, or even a lack of a response. But in fact, what we presume about someone else’s motives reflects our perception of what we believe to be true of this world.
Instead of assuming the worst and then becoming angry, resentful, offended, sad, and distressed; why not do something about it? Here are five tips to help with being less reactive to things:
1. Take a beat.
Before reacting in the moment to something that’s been said or you’ve read, ask yourself, What do I really know about this person? What do I think they’re aiming to do? When we know very little about a person, how can we possibly make conclusions about the innermost part of their mind? We can’t.
2. Practice compassion.
Not everything is as purposeful as we think. Accidents happen. People are distracted by pain, worry, and stress beyond what we know in the moment.
3. Ask for clarification.
Sometimes it’s best to flush out a contentious situation in a calm, open way by asking the other person what they intended to do, or what had they wanted to accomplish. You may get an honest answer and you may not. But at least you can try to give it a chance. Some people do not act with purpose, they’re just unconsciously reacting. The point is, you’ll now know what kind of person you’re dealing with instead of assuming a false reality. You might be surprised to find it was a simple misunderstanding and you grow closer because of this conversation.
4. State it upfront.
We’re not immune to someone misconstruing our intentions, either. Stating clearly what the tone of the agenda is can neutralize hostility for a sensitive topic or set an expectation for trying something out of the ordinary.
5. Be the change.
The more we act in the way of our higher selves, plants the idea in others. We shape our own destiny by practicing more love and empathy for those around us and expanding our comprehension of who someone is, is a meaningful way to do that.