I find it amazing how people seem to easily explain other people’s behavior. They did it because of this or that. He or she knew what they were doing or wanted to do it. They even jump to say that they know what is coming next.
Connecting the dots (whether they are true or not) makes our stories more credible. Never considering whether our explanations are “close” to being accurate. It feels good when we can say that we understand and can explain things in ways that make sense to us.
In hearing these stories, I often believe people give the other person way too much credit. Their made-up explanations as to why someone did something imply that the person they are analyzing was very thoughtful and spent a great deal of time deciding why their behavior or actions ended up the way they did.
It simply isn’t true. None of us have that kind of time to plan our every action or reaction to a situation. We are more flawed than we think. Our thinking is too fast because we don’t know how to slow it down. And yes all of us make mistakes.
Things happen. Some are good and some are not so good. Unintended consequences or reactions are just part of life. We can’t think of everything. Most likely, neither did the person you are storytelling about. At the moment (that now we are analyzing) emotions could have gotten the best of us, or our distractions gave us no chance to focus properly before acting.
Can we learn something from others’ actions or behavior? Certainly. But normally these stories are just meant to suggest you are “in the know” or “better” than the person you are describing. Puffing up our ego by saying we know why something happened and the other person didn’t handle it right at all.
Instead of spending time constructing stories to explain another person’s behavior, why not use that time to begin working on the next thing that matters to you? Or find ways to help make the current situation you are analyzing better.
And then take a minute to think about why is it so easy for us to explain others’ behavior and so difficult for us to explain and reflect on our own.