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13 July 2007 @ 12:49 pm
Observation: Most assumptions arise from an under- or overestimation of a person, situation, etc.

I tend to overestimate due to a bit of confused entanglement about trying to give people the benefit of the doubt. I seem to have mis-translated "benefit of the doubt" over the years to mean "expect the best".

Since nearly all disappointment derives from expectations, this is problematic. My ideal state is to be expectation-free and pleasantly surprised on occasion.

How do you exercise the "benefit of the doubt" without creating expectations?

Which are you inclined to do more: underestimate or overestimate?
Prince of Happinesspoh on July 13th, 2007 08:03 pm (UTC)
I'm still trying to work that one out myself. Recent events have lead me to conclude that I did not get the balance right.
Kburgunder on July 16th, 2007 10:29 pm (UTC)
Me too. I just thought of an amusing musical comparison while I'm still pondering this.

It's all about balancing between:
"No More Mr. Nice Guy" by Alice Cooper
"Pixie" by Ani Difranco
Darkmanedarkmane on July 13th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)
"Benefit of the doubt" to me means not having negative expectations based off of hearsay or assumptions.

Now, this does not mean ignoring evidence I have.

An example would be, if someone does something that negativly affects me, I will give them the benefit of the doubt on thier intentions if not the about what happened. If I didn't, I might actually just not associate with the person in case they were acting maliciously.
Kburgunder on July 14th, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC)
That's a really good way of looking at things - thanks, S!
(Deleted comment)
indie: Fight Club Abortionindiefic on July 13th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)
Which are you inclined to do more: underestimate or overestimate?

Either or depending on the situation.

I was watching some of Byron Katie's stuff the other day and while on one hand I think it's kind of bullshit, she did have a few gems.

One of them is that no one can ever hear what another person means, only what they say. It's human nature to take the words, process them through your own filter and apply your own meanings.

She also said that all disappointment/frustration/negative energy in life derives from not having your expectations met. well, DUH . Her solution was to let go of expectations. I don't really buy that. I mean, yes, it makes total sense. But in practice it doesn't really work for me.

< fictitious, extreme example >
Oh, so my mother likes to run over pedestrians. It causes a lot of stress in our relationship because I expect her to not run over pedestrians. It's causing so much stress that it's ruining our relationship. I just need to let go of my expectation that she won't run over people and accept the love I feel for her.

Um, no. In this example, it seems that no one would ever be called on their bullshit.

I ramble.
Stax: chibistaxxy on July 13th, 2007 08:40 pm (UTC)
I tend to do neither. I think of all the possibilities, consider which is most likely, and operate with that in mind until I can *ask*. I ask a lot.

Sometimes I do both instead. and seesaw between them until I can ask.
Deirdreevillinn on July 13th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
I think that I tend to not have a lot of expectations, in general, really. It isn't about a lack of faith, or too much faith, its about an on-going attempt to let things happen as they may and not project on them. ("them" being people or experiences, really)
There are a few things that I had instilled in me as a child that have served me well, and I think this is among them. My mom has a rather natural ability to be present in the moment and to not create expectation or anticipation around things.
People have seemed to assume this means I don't have hopes or "dreams", but I don't think that a lack of expectation is mutually exclusive with hopes/dreams. It just allows hopes/dreams to exist in a different frame work.

My eyes are crossed from homework and errand running all day. I don't imagine I'm making sense of this. We'll see how it goes. ;)
Varnvarn_ix on July 14th, 2007 08:53 am (UTC)
Persons: First, what is their role in my life? If they are going to be in my presence a lot, I try to work toward some kind of spiritual intimacy. Since I now understand about shyness and reservation and how you need time to overcome them, I can approach this from a position of benevolent patience (except when I'm cranky). If a relationship is to be good, you need trust and understanding: trust that your feelings are safe in the other's hands, and understanding so you may do the same for them.

The benefit of the doubt in this case is not an expectation of good behavior, but rather being prepared for bad behavior, and how not to get upset by it.

Situations: I need to have expectations, or I will be aimless and waste time and opportunities. When I go touring, for example, a plan of action is mandatory, else tiredness from a previous day and lack of motivation for the current one will keep me in bed (cot, bunk) too long. Usually, having expectations doesn't spoil the actual experience.

Disappointment: Imagine a teenage boy in love with someone who is rather less in love with him, and who has some very conservative views. They are going steady, no problem, but within serious limits. As the relationship progresses, he sees these limits waver occasionally and so he makes grand, detailed plans for the next home-alone situation. However, he doesn't know fear and desperation are serious turnoffs, and thus the limits stay firmly in place.

It doesn't get any worse than that. Once you learn to deal with this kind of disappointment, anything else is not a problem.

Underestimation vs. overestimation: depends on first impressions, but usually I overestimate, especially if the person is older than me. There is no disappointment, however.

(Anonymous) on July 14th, 2007 12:14 pm (UTC)
I hardly ever expect anything from anyone, not good or bad. I try to judge the actions not the person and not let things get personal. This is on personal relations, on work environment I more easily praise and judge people on their actions.

As a result, in personal life I have very thick mental armor which is hard to penetrate. Those who get through, I know well enough that they cannot totally disappoint me, it is just not in their nature.

In general I believe the good nature of people, except in work, where I have to expect the worse. Otherwise doing security research would be quite useless.

Whether the above is a fact or just my own wish I hoped myself to be... well that should be judged by others and not me.
Pegaxpegax on July 14th, 2007 12:17 pm (UTC)
ooooops, I was logged out, when writing that comment.
nplusmnplusm on July 16th, 2007 09:36 pm (UTC)
So, I've been pondering this all weekend, I've applied game theory, extrapolation techniques, and percentage plays to the application of "benefit of the doubt". Then, I attempted to remodel the mathematical theory to a practical intuitive response, for less heuristic projections.

It came out a bit messy, with one small thought I figured I just bounce off you. What if it's a question of really knowing when you are in doubt? That is to say, how often do you entertain delusions or illusions that you craft in an effort to generate some doubt. In addition, how often is it necessary to give somebody the benefit of the doubt. For instance, let's say you have a boyfriend you like but is a drug user. You break up with him, and then he says he's going clean. You could give him the benefit of the doubt, or you could adopt a wait and see stance.

So, starting from their, I went to standard extrapolation modeling. I consider this to be a likely parallel to setting expectations. So, how does one exercise the benefit of the doubt without creating expectation. The fact is, you can't. Most actions you choose to do or not do are based off expectations. Most of these expectations are borne out by the fact that you are taking real data and operating accordingly. My guess is, the problem arises when you offer benefit of the doubt in an overly charitable fashion. Doing so will provide a poor model for extrapolation.

So, now the question is, can you mentally accept the fact that if somebody has an unfavorable model in your mind, it is more likely their fault than yours. It was their actions that lead you to your model. You do not owe them a retooling of the model based on their request for a more charitable view.

In fact, if you want to get really deep about it, giving the benefit of the doubt to a person who hasn't earned it is insulting and demeaning to all the people who do good and strive to be good. Basically, it's akin to giving the same raise to two employees, one who has been assiduous, and the other who has been a fuck up, but now promises a new leaf.

I don't know if it's been helpful, but if you want, I can show you the diagrams I drew on my rental contract :).
Kburgunder on July 16th, 2007 10:00 pm (UTC)
Ooo, rental contract? Are you moving?

I'm going to tangent ever so slightly from your train station of thought to a nearby annex...

I think it would be fair to say that I generally try to engage the benefit of the doubt when I am doubting my own observations and feelings. Or, actually, to be more precise, I have angst or concern about engaging the benefit of the doubt in this instance.

I came across a perfect example this weekend of how I use the benefit of the doubt in a way that doesn't cause me any head noise. My Finnish buddy is known for texting or calling me when he's really, really, really drunk and, sometimes through being Finnish, sometimes through being male and sometimes through being drunk, he can be outrageously offensive. For instance, this weekend, he decided to refer to all women as "bush" in his text messages. Now, I've known pegax for 13 years, and I know he's not a misogynistic ass hole - he's actually a really nice guy. So when I get a text from him that is overtly or inadvertently offensive, I give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume his intention was not be offensive.

I'm being verbose... moving the opposite example to a new comment...
Kburgunder on July 16th, 2007 10:08 pm (UTC)
But before I ponder the opposite example, I reread the thing about Pekka, and realized something really interesting. It's about faith.

I know I'm a damn cynic, and come by faith only through the excruciatingly patient and consistent efforts of others. Pekka has my benefit of the doubt because I've known him for 13 years and in that time has repeatedly proven that he is a decent guy.

If something strikes me as being motivated from malicious intent, and I don't have some tried and true faith in a person, this is where I run into trouble. As much as I want to follow the Lao Tzu approach of "By not trusting, you make them untrustworthy" (etc.), and as much as I believe in the wisdom of trusting someone until they give you reason to doubt them, I find that my experience leads me astray from this attitude as soon as I get past initial acquaintance contact.

... I need to think about this some more before I think I can communicate a coherent thought.
Kburgunder on July 16th, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
Faith - Tangent 1
I have a really hard time making friends and maintaining relationships with chaotic people.

Adam and I used to argue about this all the time. I called him the "Lord of Chaos" while we were dating.

I wasn't able to develop a lot of faith in him because his responses to identical things were inconsistent. Lacking faith, I was often not able to give him the benefit of my doubt when he did something that seemed hurtful or manipulative to me.

Duri, on the other hand, was very consistent. I had a lot of faith in him, and it took waaaaay too many years to stop giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Glib observation: both the lack of faith in the one relationship and the overabundance of faith in the other lead me seriously astray.