When we find ourselves jumping to conclusions, making hasty judgement, and reacting from a place of anger or frustration we most likely are also closing the door to a potential opportunity, impacting our career choices, and pushing a relationship further and further away.
You see, a recent situation has brought this to light as a social media post really threw me for a loop.
Did you ever assess a situation based on information you had, only to later discover you were way off base?
Did you ever discover someone else made an assessment of you based on one situation without a clue of the back story behind it?
Did you ever make a decision or drive a project based on information on hand, only to discover later that you lacked key details to make the best choices?
You have received your graduation certificate from MSU!
Making Stuff Up.
This is something our brains do in order to quickly fill in gaps and make decisions. Usually, this is productive, but sometimes the gap we fill is based on our own belief systems and are not rooted in fact.
The main reason you “jump to conclusions” is that your cognitive system needs a complete picture. You seldom get that, so you have mental shortcuts that increase the speed of your judgment and decision-making processes. You naturally fill in the gaps, but usually you’re not completely accurate.
Your brain filters (misses some information), distorts (change the circumstances so you can understand them), and generalizes (places the information you receive into recognizable buckets). All this is based on your pre-conceived ideas and your beliefs. You have created a story that is not completely true.
It is who we are, we all do this.
I would like to share three examples of how MSU has shown up in my life.
MSU about me
Most recently I had a business meeting at 4:00 PM. It was virtual and I signed in 20 minutes early. As I waited, I engaged in a few simple tasks. 10-minutes into the meeting I sent a reminder (life happens and people get distracted). 5 minutes later I shut down.
I received a response to my email– “I was under the impression that we were scheduled at 3pm. I was in the meeting that we set for that time, on time. A big piece of [professionalism] is showing [people] it matters to ….be on time. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to be the case today.”
This MSU was an inference-observation, mistaking something to be true using logic, based in minimal facts, and making a decision to respond in kind.
MSU I responded to
My daughter and I own a home together and have our morning routine. I am up early, so feed the cat and start the coffee. I usually get some personal items out of the way before she starts her day.
One recent morning I realized I was coughing. When my daughter got up, it appeared to me she was stomping, she did not say good morning, and seemed to have an air of being angry.
My response was to leave and go to my office, close the door, and get to work. I wanted to give her space to cool down, assuming I had woken her up and she was angry about that.
Later that day we were talking, and I discovered that what was going on was that she woke with a migraine.
Boy, was I off base?
This was me engaged in Mind Reading, assuming that I accurately knew what she was thinking.
When I avoided MSU
When I was in corporate, I often held roles of program manager and drove key projects. In one company I had just transferred to a new department. My team leader had me in her office for a telephone conference with the technical lead and business team I would be working with. While we waited for the meeting to begin, she gave me all the reasons why I needed to be careful with this lead and how terrible she was to work with.
After the meeting I called this technical lead and told her my role was to support her and her team in driving our mutual projects to success.
When it was time for me to move on, the technical lead and I had a conversation about that phone call. You see, she heard it all.
She thanked me for making my own decisions and not letting that influence our working together.
The team leader I had was engaged in labeling, making assumptions about people, based on behaviors or opinions that are stereotypical. She was accustomed to adverse relationships within her workgroups and had feedback about the technical lead. She did not have firsthand experience and made assumptions that were not based on actual knowledge.
These are just three cases in my life where relying on MSU actually caused harm and negatively impacted healthy relationships.
Engaging in MSU is who you are, it is human. However, you can check in with yourself to be sure you have enough of the facts to draw an accurate picture.
- Slow down and force yourself to think through a given situation instead of immediately accepting your initial reaction to be truth.
- Ask yourself what information could help you reach a valid conclusion, and how you can get that information.
- Question all your assumptions, check your reaction (anger, fear, frustration) as it may be tainting the picture you are creating, and actively seek additional information when possible.
- Think about a time where it might have been you in a similar situation and what was your story.
MSU is natural, lashing out in reaction is you not making conscious choices.
When you discover you were incorrect and did not have the complete story, own it.
Practice living life from a place of being curious, hone your ability to respond with integrity, be conscious of those you may harm. Become an expert at managing your emotional intelligence.
Remember, you have the power to choose how you respond. The practice of conscious choice and being present in the uniqueness of the moment allows you to take control, accept responsibility, and be aware that your purpose, power, and presence belong to you alone.
If you want to know more, go ahead and schedule a complimentary session with me today at: Complimentary Coaching If not now, when?