When I first started driving the car, I had a funny situation. I was leaving a client one evening and forgot to turn on the headlights. I was driving a Dacia at the time, so there was no question of the headlights going on and off automatically, like now.
On the way home, I noticed that another car kept following me. The gentleman in the car seemed to be trying to tell me something. I was pretending not to see, I was so scared to be behind the wheel, what was I going to do talking to someone I didn’t know. But I thought I must have looked good. ????
At a stoplight, the gentleman opens his window, beckons me to open it too. And he says: ‘turn on your headlights too!’
Obviously, I was extremely ashamed at that moment. Then the scene amused me.
Here’s how something happens around us and we make up scenarios. In that case, my scenario was far too rosy. In other cases, the scenarios are negative: others have something against us, want to persecute us, have grievances about us, don’t (anymore) appreciate us, love us, want to break up with us, kick us out, to name a few.
Our reactions are a result of these scenarios, these imaginings.
Working from a distance doesn’t help at all. The less we see each other, the more disparate our interactions, the more segregated we work, the less we work together as a team, the greater the likelihood that scenarios will flourish. In the words of a former colleague: ‘only the paranoid survive.’
When we react to scenarios and don’t clarify, when we doubt the good intentions of others, all hell breaks loose in interpersonal relationships.
I’m not saying it’s better to see everything through the rose-coloured glasses I saw it through in the example at the beginning. It’s just as distorted reality.
Perhaps a more balanced approach would be to ask what the interlocutor meant, tell them that we interpreted it in a way, is it similar to intent, and start in interactions from the presumption of good intentions. Otherwise, we will only see enemies, weapons pointed at us; an imagined reality, a hell on earth of our own imagination, which is rather poor at times.