The Benefit of the Doubt


How can you give others the benefit of the doubt?  

This is a question I ponder not only to myself, but in counseling with my clients.  I work with individuals and couples that have been wounded in their relationships, thus creating an obstacle in being able to give the other people in their lives the benefit of the doubt.  They begin to assume that each tone, inflection of voice or choice of words is an invitation to injure, wound or attack.  Instead of responding with patience or curiosity, they respond with defensiveness or aggression.  

When I see this type of conflict arise in relationships, I encourage my clients to slow down, breathe and respond with patience.   

How can you start meeting others in your life, whether they be people you know or strangers, with patience and the benefit of the doubt?  How can you begin to not assume the worst in others?  What would it be like if when someone used a sharp tone or spoke to quickly, you instead gave them the benefit of the doubt and asked how they were?   

As a wife, mother and therapist, I've been challenging myself more and more to meet others in this capacity.  Not only is my response softer and more genuine, it allows for the other person to also open up and share more than if I had responded in defensiveness or irritation.  In this month of love, you know...February, I challenge you to begin to give others the benefit of the doubt and leave your assumptions at the door.  You never know what you may learn about a stranger, or even your partner by responding in this way.  

Good luck and don't forget to breathe!!  And don't hesitate to reach out if I can be of help, 916.955.3200,