Joanne’s New Year’s Resolution – Benefit of the Doubt

I thought I’d get a jump in my New Year’s resolution to get into better shape, so I started an aqua size class just before the new year.  After class while in the change room I noticed a woman getting dressed next to me who seemed rather dour.  As I was getting ready to leave I wished her a Happy New Year and she snarled at me and said “New Year means nothing to me”.  I could have been offended and have left it at that.  Instead, I asked her why she felt that way. Flowers - Creative Commons Usage - Some rights reserved by Joe Mabel

She told me her story

Her husband had recently passed away and she was all alone.  On top of that, her elderly mother living in Europe had suffered a stroke and had no one to take care of her.  She was planning a trip back home however, the flights over the holidays were exorbitant and she was forced to wait until after the new year before purchasing the tickets.  I listening with empathy and commiserated with her. I told her I hoped things would improve for her and her mother.  As we were walking out the door, she wished me a Happy New Year.

What’s going on?

Often we see people who react negatively to occasions when we make a pleasant comment.  We take it personally and wonder, “What’s up with them?” It’s often a reflex on their part and may be a cry for help or a wish to unburden themselves.  We have no idea what’s going on in their world.

My New Year’s resolution

I typically don’t make New Year’s resolutions because they don’t tend to last (especially my ‘get into better shape’ one).  This year though, I’m resolving not to jump to conclusions when someone’s approach is negative, but instead give them the benefit of the doubt.  We just don’t know what burden they may be carrying.  I hope you’ll consider doing the same.  There, but for the grace of god or fortune, go you or I.

Posted by Joanne Blake – The Canadian Corporate Image Consultant and resolution keeper (I hope)

About the author 

Joanne Blake

Canadian speaker, corporate image consultant & business etiquette expert. If you're interested in booking a presentation, keynote or coaching, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.

  1. Happy New Year Joanne and thanks for sharing with us. We are so inclined to make things about “us” and get offended unnecessarily. You are 100% right and something I will be doing this year too!

  2. great sentiments!! If we all follow this great advice the world will be a much nicer place for all.

  3. Great message and perfect timing. Over the last week I made an assumption my husband was cranky because of something I did. In conversation two days later, I heard it was something outside of my control. Why didn’t I ask for more info at the first sign of unhappiness? I commit to not making ‘assumptions’ in 2013. Thanks for the prompt.

Comments are closed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}