An important conversation is had with an influential player at work. Something comes up; an opinion is sought. Two minds agree and an accord is reached. You go off thinking that’s the way it’ll be. Surprised you are to find out days later that they’re not of the same view anymore. It happens more than we realise.
Was the other person unfaithful? No, not usually.
We can think we’ve reached a landing on something—a pact worth banking on—but it doesn’t account for reflection or reconsideration.
Does the other person owe us for not communicating their change of heart? No, not always. It pays to re-confirm before thinking is based on old information.
The Negative Power of Assumption
What happened in the first interchange between two parties was a meld of two people, their moods, situational determinants on the day, and any number of other factors that can’t be replicated.
Both thought and felt how they thought and felt because of these many factors.
That one or both went away and reflected and made their separate minds up about it is a simple fact of everyday life. Everyone does it everyday—routinely.
When we discount this fact, organising people within our minds as unchanging in their approach, we unconsciously limit our thinking and raise our expectations to unrealistic levels. Assumptions assume a power they should never, in truth, attain. This is a negative power devaluing our contributions in the world—because we’ll be faced by many disappointments by virtue of this approach.
People will disappoint us if our expectations of them remaining ‘faithful’ to everything they say persist. No one backs up everything they commit to.
Accounting for Reflection
Human beings are incredibly reflective in their approach to important life matters. That’s safely assumed because we know people change their minds.
Indeed, do not people have the right to think—as people are encouraged to do—and make informed decisions based on new information as it comes in?
This doesn’t always obligate them to inform everyone of their new frame of reference. It’s other people’s responsibility to check the information—that was then, this is now. If people, on the other hand, act with intention, knowing a change of mind is having a manipulative influence, that’s a little more sinister. But we have to realise we account for our behaviour in different ways—not everyone acts with the moral fortitude we’d like them to... indeed, none of us are perfect on that score.
Reflection is a key activity of humanity. Mature people will change their minds, often without notice. Accept it.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.