From the Dee Why Junior School Captains: Generous Assumptions
Zoe W and Daniel M | 2022 Dee Why Junior School Captains | Grammar News | 17 June 2022
This term, through Assembly and in our Grow Your Mind lessons, we have been introduced to the term ‘Generous Assumptions.’
Having a generous assumption of someone means expecting the best of them, or giving them ‘the benefit of the doubt.' It is quite a powerful idea that, when applied, could prevent unnecessary conflict and create more empathy, respect, compassion and love. When you make a generous assumption, you are activating your Sifting Sooty (the Reticular Activating System, which is what helps you to focus) and are stepping into someone else’s shoes so that you can be more empathetic.
Inevitably, someone will do something to you that you don’t like. Everyone makes mistakes in haste and this can cause conflict. Someone might say something hurtful which might create feelings of anger and set off the ‘guard dog’ in your brain. It is at this point that you need the superpower of your Sifting Sooty, or Reticular Activating System (RAS) to switch on and focus. Thinking more broadly about the person who caused you to feel upset might help to mend the relationship rather than destroy it. Perhaps that person was having a terrible day, week or month. Maybe they didn’t mean to cause harm but were spontaneous in their thinking or defensive because they were feeling insecure about themselves. Perhaps it is that person who needs to be treated with kindness back in order to stop the cycle of harm or hate.
It may not be that someone has said something unkind, rather that they are laughing or whispering with someone else. Your guard dog might be set off and your brain might tell you that they are whispering about you or that they are leaving you out. Making a generous assumption in that situation is just assuming that they weren’t talking about you and that it really isn’t anything to be worried about.
Putting a generous assumption into action and doing something about it could look like asking someone if they are ok, giving them a smile, ignoring unsavoury comments (if they are one-offs) or checking in on friends when the situation is calmer. When we use a generous assumption, we do not deal hate for hate. We respond with love. We think the best of people and give them a second chance. Imagine if we all did this! What kind of world would we create? If we all made generous assumptions, think of how much stronger our relationships could be and how much more empathy we would have towards other people.