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10 Reasons to Give Someone the Benefit of the Doubt


Imagine yourself in a new relationship, and your partner suddenly stops responding to your texts over the weekend. Anxious thoughts run through your mind. Perhaps, you’ve had previous experiences of being lied to or even cheated on. So, the inevitable happens – you jump to conclusions.

When you find yourself worrying if you can trust someone’s words or actions, it might be easier to keep your guards up and think of the worst. Better safe than sorry, right? But if you’re trying to build a lasting connection with someone, another route you can take is giving them the benefit of the doubt.

In this article, we’ll list reasons why you should choose to take a leap of faith and believe the good in people.

Why is hard to give the benefit of the doubt

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt doesn’t always come easy. As humans, we have a natural tendency to protect ourselves in the face of perceived threat.

This is why it can be hard for us to trust others and may resort to jumping to conclusions especially when we have limited information.

In social psychology, jumping to conclusions can be explained by our cognitive biases. Having confirmation bias, for example, is our tendency to interpret information in a way that confirms our already existing beliefs.

Let’s go back to the earlier scenario. If you happen to have previous experiences of being cheated on in relationships, then chances are you may have a confirmation bias against a new partner who’s gone silent.

Rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt and thinking that they may just be taking some time for themselves, you may jump to the conclusion that they are doing something to break your trust. 

Another reason that we jump to conclusions is our lack of deeper reflection and analytical thinking. Some of us simply choose to make impulsive judgments and quick decisions that we fail to think rationally. As a result, giving someone the benefit of the doubt amidst tense situations can be off the table.

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Reasons to give the benefit of the doubt

If you want to consider giving other people the benefit of the doubt, these reasons may further convince you.

1. Our assumptions can be wrong

Whether it’s thinking on our feet or following our instinct, some of us take shortcuts when making decisions. But our assumptions aren’t 100% right most of the time.

So the next time you feel like going with your gut, you may want to take a step back and try to gather more information.

2. We’re not always the best judge of character

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt can be difficult if we’re making bad judgments on who someone is and what they’re capable of.

Sometimes, we tend to overgeneralize or even try to read their minds.

However, keeping an open mind about someone can surprise us and give us a more accurate sense of their character and intentions.

3. We might be driven by anxiety or trauma

Anxiety can distort the way we think. It can cause us to overthink, leading us to make uninformed presumptions about people.

Furthermore, having negative experiences in the past can also feed these sneaking suspicions.

Having anxiety and dealing with trauma are real issues. Seeking help can allow us to rebuild our sense of trust and make it easier for us to give people that we care about the benefit of the doubt.

4. Everyone deserves a second chance

If someone has wronged us in the past, it can even be more difficult to give them the benefit of the doubt. However, all of us make mistakes and deserve a second chance.

Just be cautious of the fine line between being good-hearted and being trapped in a toxic cycle of giving people an unlimited amount of free passes.

5. It motivates us to communicate

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt teaches us that we don’t have to make conclusions on our own. We can always opt to speak with the other person directly to get the information that we need.

So if it bothers you that your partner is not treating you the way you expect them to, it might be best to communicate your needs first before assuming that they’re already losing interest in you.

6. It gives us deeper understanding

Giving someone the benefit of doubt allows us to get to know them. Instead of making immediate conclusions, we can let them unfold at their own pace. This will give us a better perspective on who they are and what their intentions are.

Trying to get a deeper understanding of someone will strengthen your connection and trust in them. Just give it time.

7. It allows us to practice forgiveness

As mentioned earlier, none of us are perfect and we all make lapses from time to time. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is an act of forgiveness which frees us from negative emotions.

If you’re someone who’s been given the benefit of the doubt, don’t waste this chance and commit to making positive changes in your life.

8. It shows gentleness

Sometimes, our standards are too high for others which makes it hard for us to give them the benefit of the doubt. We assume that the world will always meet our expectations. As a result, we end up upset or disappointed.

By giving someone the benefit of the doubt, we become more gentle in our relationships and develop more tolerance towards other people and ourselves, too.

9. It’s better for our wellbeing

According to a recent study, seeing other people in a malicious way can lower our happiness. Researchers suggest that it helps to practice giving people the benefit of the doubt in order to improve our overall well being.

So the next time you feel skeptical about someone, remember that seeing the goodness in people can actually allow you to live a happier life!

10. We trust ourselves more

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt can also provide us more insight about ourselves.

When we’re experiencing anxiety over trusting others, it gives us the opportunity to pay more attention to the reasons behind our gut feelings and emotions.

If you’re conflicted about giving someone the benefit of the doubt, you may want to pause and reflect on why you’re feeling this way. The more you develop self-awareness, the more you can trust yourself in situations like this.

💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, we've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇

hugo huijer

Download Our FREE Mental Self-Care Cheat Sheet!

Thrive under stress and crush your goals with these 10 instant tips for your mental health.

Wrapping up

Building trust in our relationships takes hard work. But when we’re more open to giving someone the benefit of the doubt, it can significantly strengthen our relationships by practicing tolerance, compassion, and deeper understanding. All of us deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt. Keep in mind that you can benefit from it, too!

How often do you give someone the benefit of the doubt? Do you find it hard to do so? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Madel
Madel Asuncion Writer

Writer and advocate for young people's mental health. Firm believer of validating one’s feelings, prioritizing the inner-self, and finding happiness in a plate of chicken curry.

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