When we cock things up, we hope to be judged on the basis of our intentions, don’t we? We hope that people will understand that we meant well, even if things went horribly wrong.
But, all too often, when other people cock up, we automatically judge them on the basis of their behaviour and the impact it has on us.
I think the point I want to make is best demonstrated by some examples – although I should mention that these are things that would be said only in my head...except the road rage one, which would probably be shouted in the privacy of my car, with far more expletives...!
Example: Driver A brakes to avoid Driver B
Me when I’m A: you fucking idiot! Good job I was on the ball or we’d have been looking at a major smash then – what the hell were you thinking, moron? If you’re in such a hurry, you should’ve left earlier, shouldn’t you?
Me when I’m B: what are you tooting at, mate? There was loads of bloody room – you shouldn’t have been going so fast! Would it have killed you to let me in then? I am SO effing late because of this sodding traffic…why can’t people be more tolerant?
Example: A is kept waiting by B
Me when I’m A: been sat here on my tod looking like a right Billy No Mates for the last half hour and then you come breezing in whining on about your bad day without a thought for me – that’s just plain rude, frankly, and yes, I’m pissed off. Very.
Me when I’m B: OMG, I’m so sorry, but I’ve had SUCH a shitty day and THE worst journey to get here – you wouldn’t believe it – and it’s a miracle I’m here at all, frankly. I’m frazzled. Absolutely frazzled. What’s up with you? Why are you being so off with me?
Example: A is upset about something B has said
Me when I’m A: jeez, either you meant to have a dig or you’ve had an empathy bypass. How could anyone not realise how absolutely fucking crass that was? You really don’t give a toss about my feelings, do you?
Me when I’m B: but I didn’t mean it like that! Of course I didn’t! Surely you know me better than that? And when did you become such a delicate little flower, anyway? Actually, you know what? I’m the one who should be bloody upset - upset that you clearly have such a low opinion of me!
Perhaps the most obvious question is “But what if B actually IS a total arsehole?”. Well, even if they are, how do A’s reactions change that or benefit A?
Why choose to believe something that causes you to feel a whole raft of shitty emotions?