There are always two sides to a story and statistics have shown that most often than not, the side you pick and believe to be true is usually not the correct one. In fact, most of the things you hold strongly to in your life as truths are most likely lies. If I ask you to provide the absolute truths you know, chances are 50% of them are misrepresentations and not the truth. So, is your whole life now a lie?
Think about all the people who you have never met but have formed opinions of based on what you heard others say about them. There are so many people that you hate or have a strong dislike for based on what you have heard people say about them and you formed your opinion of them even when your personal and direct interactions with them have gone contrary to what you heard.
Forming opinions about people based on hearsay can be dangerous and lead to harmful stereotypes and discrimination. This type of information is often unreliable and can be easily distorted or misinterpreted. Why is it always so hard for people to use personal interactions to form their opinions of people? Well, as Adam Grant says, people are naturally inclined to believe the worst of others, it takes intentional training to see the good in people.
I offer myself as a specimen, for those of you who read my Bedsides but have never met me before, I urge you to partake in the following experiment and send me your findings via email. Here’s the experiment…
Take some time to think about me, what do you think of me? When you think about Miracle Roch, do you think demon or angel? Draw up two columns, one demon and one angel, fill up the rows with actual events that have occurred between me and you and accurately describes the two columns (this must be based on direct interactions between me and you only).
I’ve been reading an Adam Grant book and ever since I came across this, it has got me lost in deep thoughts. At first, I felt it was a contrast to my own personal experience as I’ve always just believed that anyone I come across thinks the worst of me, then when I interact with them and they give testimonials of how I’m such a good person it takes me very long to take their word to the Bank. When I saw Adam Grant’s words, I immediately countered it by saying, it does not apply to me, people I meet rarely think the worst of me, I have been fortunate to have come across really kind people in my life so you can understand. But then, as I thought about it deeply, I realized that it’s very possible that most of the people you think like you actually don’t like you deep down and if you were privy to their conversations.
The second part of this experiment is yet another mental table, but this time, your entries will be based on things you have heard about me from others or based on indirect interactions. You will notice this table is longer than the previous one because naturally, people form more opinions about others based on third party hearsay.
How many of you have met Donald Trump personally? Probably not a lot, but most of us can write three pages full of opinions about the Donald. Have you ever asked if the Donald is as horrible as you think he is, based on his tweets and TV appearances, to those he knows personally? I’d think not. It’s also why I’m beginning to understand how people marry Serial Killers. When I watched the Charles Sobhraj story, I did not understand how his wife, who he married while he was imprisoned could so passionately defend someone who had done so many horrid things and then I figured why. His wife’s opinions of Charles were not based on media stories, it was based on her direct personal interactions with Charles and perhaps, Charles has been an “angel” to her (not to be confused with hybristophilia). What’s the name of this phenomenon that makes you change your opinions of people when you have personal interactions with them?
It is important to remember that everyone is an individual with their own unique experiences and perspectives. Forming opinions about people based on hearsay is unfair and can lead to harmful stereotypes and discrimination. Instead, it is important to seek out firsthand information and get to know people on a personal level and form an accurate understanding of people. It is also important to treat everyone as an individual and not stereotype them based on what we hear from others.
Perhaps you need to change some opinions you have long held about people. About me? Especially after looking at the results of the two tables you drew up. Remember, whatever you heard, it’s statistically likely to be false until you find out for yourself.