10 Reasons to Give Someone the Benefit of the Doubt

Whether you believe in karma or not, it’s important to remember that people deserve the benefit of the doubt every once in a while.

You never know when someone will step up and do something above and beyond what you could have imagined or expected of them. Here are 10 reasons why you should give someone the benefit of the doubt.

1) Everybody makes mistakes

Everybody messes up from time to time. As our own history shows, we’re all capable of making bad decisions.

While mistakes don’t make a person bad, it can take some self-reflection and humility to admit when you’re wrong and ask for forgiveness.

It takes true character to apologize for being wrong even if there are consequences for doing so, and some people simply aren’t willing or able to make that leap.

Instead of jumping down someone’s throat every time they slip up, give them a chance: The next time they hurt your feelings or do something that rubs you the wrong way, see if you can think before assuming they did it on purpose.

2) People are humans, not machines

There’s no question that it’s easy to get caught up in watching out for mistakes. And yes, people make a lot of them, often enough that we sometimes describe them as being error-prone.

However, when you know someone well or are dealing with someone for whom you have some level of respect and appreciation, try giving that person a little more leeway than you would with others.

The bottom line is: don’t expect perfection—it rarely happens. Instead, give people credit for doing their best given their own situation.

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For example, if your spouse forgets your anniversary because he or she was extremely busy at work all week, cut him or her some slack and appreciate what he or she did remember: your marriage!

3) We all deserve forgiveness

We all make mistakes, especially in high-pressure environments. If you’re dedicated, smart, and hard-working, people will overlook most things.

Everybody deserves a clean slate every once in a while; as long as you don’t make the same mistake over and over again, people will be more willing to give you benefit of the doubt.

This is especially true in relationships: If you make an honest effort to fix things, your partner will usually respond positively and work with you to improve things.

4) Giving the benefit of the doubt allows for personal growth

If you give people the benefit of the doubt, they feel appreciated and motivated to do better. They know that you see their potential and want to help them grow as a person.

As a result, they’ll often work harder to meet your expectations and not let you down.

In contrast, if you’re always looking for ways to catch people making mistakes, they’ll feel demotivated and discouraged. In the end, this will only make them worse at their job or cause them to distance themselves from you.

5) It shows that you’re a good person

The benefit of the doubt also speaks to your own character. If you’re always looking for the good in people, it shows that you’re a kind and compassionate person.

People will be drawn to you because they know that you’re someone who sees the best in them, even when they make mistakes.

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6) Hindsight is 20/20

We are all so quick to judge, often with little or no information. When we make snap judgments, we assume we understand how things really are and then rush on making decisions based on those assumptions.

More often than not, however, our assumptions prove completely wrong.

While it is important to never be naïve about a person’s intentions and personality traits, don’t assume that someone has an ulterior motive just because you haven’t yet figured out what it is.

7) We don’t know how people act in private situations

We don’t know what a person is like behind closed doors, and so it can be difficult to judge someone based on their public persona.

It can be tempting, then, to trust our gut instinct when it comes to people we don’t really know—but that instinct is often wrong.

For example, research has shown that workplace bullies aren’t necessarily mean or evil, they’re just insecure individuals who are attempting to compensate for feelings of inferiority.

So even if a behavior seems out-of-character for them, there may be an important back story as well.

8) Intention matters

Judging someone based on one action is rarely fair. No one’s perfect. Even if you have your own personal (and valid) reasons for not liking someone, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t something redeeming about them.

When considering whether or not to give someone a chance, keep in mind that no single event can completely define who they are as a person.

Actions do speak louder than words, but they’re also often taken out of context and don’t tell you anything about their intent behind them (or lack thereof). It’s always worth taking some time to get know someone before jumping to conclusions—it might just be worth it.

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9) If you suspect something, talk about it. Don’t ignore it.

If you have suspicions about a person, talk about it with someone you trust. If your assumptions are correct, he or she will be able to help you get out before any damage is done.

If you are wrong, then a close friend will likely help guide you in seeing where your judgment might have failed.

Either way, talking about it takes away some of its power and gives you some clarity in determining what your next step should be. No need for regrets later on.

10) Life is too short to hold grudges

Last but not least, life is simply too short to hold grudges and write people off based on one mistake. If someone you care about has hurt you, try to see it from their perspective and have a conversation about it.

You might be surprised at how willing they are to listen and change.

Final Thoughts

Giving people the benefit of the doubt is an important part of life. It’s what allows us to see the best in people, even when they make mistakes.

It’s a quality that we should all strive to have, as it makes us better people. Not to mention, it can also lead to some pretty great things in life.