A or B ??

Do you remember taking multiple choice quizzes and exams? I always enjoyed them more than essay questions because you could at least make a choice. Every so often though you’d have a quiz where the answer could be “a”, “b”, “c”, “a and b”, etc. That was difficult because you had to put more thought into your response versus rushing through the exam with your No. 2 pencil to just get done.

We like clarity in the workplace. We’d prefer to have things fall into a multiple choice format so that tasks and relationships would fall into place smoothly. This may work well with things and tasks, but it rarely is that clear when it comes to working with people. This is because people are so diverse in every way.

I heard some sage advice recently from my pastor who was talking about relationships. He stated that when it comes to interactions between people we can either choose “a” or “b” broken down like this . . .

A = Assume the worst and B = Believe the best

A or BIt floored me !! This is so true in our workplaces and especially in Human Resources. Far too often I think the majority of people choose to assume the worst in others. Even before any words are shared, we make assumptions about how the conversation is sure to progress. We get bogged down and think that every time we meet with someone it’s going to result in more work for us. The power of this negative approach is extremely hard to ignore. It’s also challenging because we “just know” that the person we’re interacting with is assuming the worst as well.

I’m a choice “b” person !! I honestly go into situations believing the best will happen. It’s something that was modeled by my parents and it always seemed to work and also felt natural. It’s odd that even as I type this I sense people reading this and being skeptical or cynical. Believing the best of others doesn’t mean being naive or Utopian. Let’s be honest about something – I know that people will disappoint me because I’ve disappointed others !! Choosing to believe the best does not mean to overlook situations or treat them at a surface level.

I just don’t think something bad is going to happen when I meet other people. In fact, if someone does disappoint and/or hurt me, I will still believe the best will happen the next time I meet with them. I have come across some people who want to intentionally try to not let me believe the best in them, but I try because I think they deserve it.

If you choose to believe the best, I promise you that HR will be great for you every single day.┬áIt doesn’t have to be a battle for you to choose “b” and not “a.” I think it’s key to surround yourself with others who believe the best. There may not be as many of us around, but there are quite a few. Connect with them and see how much this group will encourage you to keep believing.

So, here’s the test for you as you enter the workweek – “A” or “B” – what will your choice be ??

9 thoughts on “A or B ??”

  1. A very good view of expectations when meeting people for the first time or subsequent meetings with folks who you have had an “A” experience. If you go into the interaction with a positive mindset and expectation, even if it ends of being a not so positive interaction it is not a total disaster.

    Like you, I tend to be a bit of an optimist whether it is in meeting people or looking for outcomes. Life is better that way!

  2. Very true! It is far too easy to go with Option A. I have always advised supervisors that it is far more important to “catch” someone doing good/great things than to only be looking to pounce on them when things go wrong.

  3. Love this, Steve. I choose Option B everyday. It’s interesting to see changes that you can influence over time with some of the the Option A types also. I appreciate your perseverance and role modeling of this approach!

  4. Good question. I think option A has to do with confirmation bias (a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions). Similar to the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon where our brain sees something as a pattern and gives it higher priority (i.e. I see white cars everywhere now that I’ve bought one.) The essay portion of your quiz might be: Please describe an activity that would help one recognize the many positive experiences in order to Believe the best will happen. Your pastor might suggest that we begin each day with a grateful heart.

  5. Agreed, option A can be an easy default. I really like your suggestion Margie Swartz about the essay question.

  6. Definitely B.. They call me Snow White at work! Now that is all in fun, however, there are other places and people in our lives that will do their best to rip the B right out of you! It’s a choice to believe in the good intentions of others.

    It’s a choice to have a glass that’s half full. It is also a choice to drag people down with doubt and negativity. One situation or interaction should not have the power to jade you. I “choose” B.

  7. Definitely B! However, when I used to be an HR manager, I must admit that sometimes I was an A person. I think when you encounter multiple situations in a short period of time where your company got the short end of the stick, it’s a challenge to not become jaded.

  8. Great post Steve. I usually call myself “a glass half full person”, I am always looking for the good in situations and in people. However, I am now going to refer to myself as a “B” person. Believer is such a great word and it can be used anywhere! Even when an “A” situation or person creeps into our worlds, we must evaluate why we feel the way we do and bridge the gap back to “B”.

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