• Ron Jenson

Step 4 – Assume The Best

Do you ever find yourself jumping to conclusions? I’ve gotten into more conflicts over time because I rushed to judgment on something. I didn’t have all the facts and I just rushed to judgment.

So, step number four in resolving conflict the right way, and dealing with difficult people, is to assume the best. That’s hard to do.

I remember one time I was supposed to bring some chairs to a friend’s house for a party. I showed up and he met me at the door and said, “Ron where are the chairs?” and I said, “Oh, I forgot! I’m so sorry.” He looked at me and said, just like this, “Well, that figures.” And then he walked away. I thought, what does he mean “that figures”? He thinks I’m no good, he thinks I can’t follow through, he thinks I’m worthless, he thinks I’m incompetent. And, I thought who does he think he is? And I started to build this case in my mind. Then, I was standing around talking to some people and looking at him talking to another group across the room and they were smiling and laughing and one of them looked over at me and started laughing some more. And I thought, he’s telling them how worthless I am, and they’re all laughing about me. They don’t like me, so I’m not going to like him. And so I was tempted to start to talk to people about him.

Now, is that not immature or what? But I was hurt and I felt like he was looking down on me and even exploding that by talking to others. I decided I had two choices:  

  • One, I can go ask him what he meant, assuming the best.

  • Two, I could let it go. I could simply not worry about him, not think about it, just let it go. Forgive and forget.

Frankly out of cowardice, I forgave and forgot, I thought. But every time I would see him, I’d just be angry. You know what that’s like. You see someone, they don’t like you, so you’re not going to like them back. I was angry, a bit bitter, and finally it was driving me so nuts that I worked up the courage to go ask him what he meant. I thought, this is going to be embarrassing because it was so obvious what he meant. So I walked up to him one day and said, “You know the other day when I was at your house and I forgot to bring those chairs and you stopped me at the door and you said, ‘That figures’?” And he stopped me right there and said “Ron, I’m sorry I shouldn’t have said that.” And I said, “Well, that’s what I thought but you did say it, so I’m just wondering what you meant?” And he looked at me and said, “Ron, all day long I had been in meetings. I had a terrible day and in every meeting someone forgot something. It just figured.”

“It just figured.” You get the point? What he was saying had nothing to do with me, it had everything to do with his day. But because I assumed the worst I honestly would have gone to the grave probably not liking him, and perhaps even not speaking well of him, because of the immaturity of my approach. I learned a very important lesson:

  • Assume the best.

  • Don’t jump to wrong conclusions.

  • Understand the other person’s side.

If you have a question about the way someone looks at you, or doesn’t look at you, or you heard someone said something about you, then go to the person and ask him. But assume the best.

And, please share your comments, questions and insights below. Finally, if this is helpful for you, please pass it on to your friends and family via email or social media.

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