You start a new job. Within a few days you realise your boss is an a**hole. You start to curse your luck and imagine what a nightmare your job is going to be.
You Zoom-Out and remember that there is no ‘Law of the Universe’ that said you would never have a ‘bad boss’ in your entire career. It’s just something any well-rounded person should be ready to deal with and learn from. You also combine this with a Whole-Person Zoom-Out:
You realise your bad boss is a whole-person and is not fully defined by that annoying or frustrating character trait. The job is not the person. They are most likely a fabulous spouse, parent, sibling, etc. They may even be doing acts of kindness and generosity not visible to you. You give them a break and accept they are not ‘bad’ despite your initial reaction and emotional response. You keep things in perspective and view this as a learning opportunity and a chance to make the best of the ‘inevitable’ situation.
When we label something or someone as ‘bad’ that is an incredibly rash judgement. Labels are best avoided. Nothing is ever so black and white. Where exactly is the line between good and bad anyway? And what makes us the expert and supreme judge?
As soon as we flick the ‘bad switch’ on someone, we saddle that person in our minds with all sorts of negative baggage that is really not justified. You could say it’s just mental laziness on our part. The person is more complex than we are acknowledging in this moment.
There’s also the “fundamental attribution error” which is a human bias that basically means that when someone behaves in a way we do not like then they are ‘an idiot’ whereas if we exhibit that behaviour then we blame this on some external factor – something we are not responsible for.
Zoom-Out beyond a simple label and see the more complex and more whole human being.
Zoom-Out beyond our internal biases. Acknowledge things are never as simple as they seem and our perspective is not the actual reality.
Psychology Today article – The Pesky Persistence of Labels
Wikipedia – Fundamental attribution error
Alfred Korzybski – Map–territory relation
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