We have all forgotten our phone or wallet in a public place before. As we hurry back in a panic and call a friend to tell her all about it, she might try to calm us by saying something like: “You wouldn’t steal someone’s phone, would you? So don’t assume yours was stolen. I’m sure it’ll be there.” It’s a hard reality to swallow at that moment but most of us don’t know anyone who would steal a phone they find at Starbucks.
The same is true of retaliation. There are times when we should speak with a colleague about a behavior they should change. But we often stay quiet for fear of retaliation, especially when that colleague is higher on the food chain. Meanwhile, if someone approached us with respect and a true desire to help, we wouldn’t retaliate, would we?
In both cases, our response is understandable because the stakes are high. Losing a wallet or a job can be a nightmare. So we forget that the odds are in our favor and play the short game.
But assuming that others are bad is a losing strategy in the long game of life.