The Pros and Cons of Assuming the Worst

Last week I blogged about the importance of believing the best. So, what if you’re one of those people who naturally assumes the worst? Well, all hope is not lost! Ha! Actually, teammates whose minds naturally go to “what can go wrong” still bring a valuable perspective, even if it’s one of the glass being half empty.

Pros of Assuming the Worst

  • You may catch small issues while they’re still small.
  • You may notice character or ethical concerns in others that “believe the best” people are inclined to gloss over or overlook.
  • You may be more prepared when the worst happens.
  • You can balance out your “believe the best” colleagues.

Cons of Assuming the Worst

  • Remember what “assume” stands for. Assuming never seems to work out for the best.
  • If someone gets crossways with you, it’s very difficult for them to get back on your good side.
  • You can be perceived as judgmental, pessimistic, or intimidating.
  • You don’t give others the benefit of the doubt.
  • You place your bad past experiences on others who haven’t done anything to lose your trust.
  • You may create more negativity in the culture as others will start assuming the worst in you.

Suggestions if you Assuming the Worst

  • Be aware of your inclinations. If your mind immediately goes to the worst, pause and ask yourself why, and if you’re giving the individual or the situation a fair assessment. Does the person actually deserve this, or are you and your baggage creating this?
  • When people know better, they can do better. Yes, it sounds cliché, but don’t write off a colleague as a lost cause because they let you down. Instead of focusing on their failure, focus on how you can help them get better. Create learning moments from disappointments.
  • Remember that people will rise to your expectations. If you don’t expect their best, you won’t get their best.

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