There’s no way I can fully know and see everything you know and see (and vice versa). So how do I react when I discover you did something that seems wrong?
I start by reminding myself that what I know right now about the facts you had and the decision you made is full of blank spaces. In the absence of knowing what you know, I can choose to have a bias in favor of believing that you likely did the right thing. (did you really?)
I can decide that the difference between the choice I’d have made and the choice you did make is the different, better information that you had. (or you just acted without really thinking things through)
And I can remember that it is always better to enter conversations about what happened and why with genuine curiosity, not judgment. (even though, let’s be honest, we’ve seen you do this sort of thing before)
I can also remind myself that there’s a short game and a long game at play, and be careful about sacrificing your long-term agency for my desire to get each and every step right between here and there. (at the same time, this was a screw-up)
This doesn’t mean that the decision might not have been wrong, or that there aren’t things to learn—because it might have been, and there probably are. But the strongest message we send in each interaction is whether we really believe in and trust each other, and how much we are committed to investing in each others’ agency. (and let’s remember that trust needs to be earned every day)
Finally, and most importantly, I can hold firmly to the notion, each and every time, that your intentions, like mine, were overflowing with goodness, with care, and with as much desire as I have to get the best outcome.
(And to be honest with myself about my own inner narrative.)
(Everything in parentheses is the corrosive inner dialogue, the one that says “I really do know better,” the one that communicates just going through the motions rather than honestly and fully embracing the other persons’ decisions and actions.)
(Even if that voice is speaking truth in this particular situation, you’re kidding yourself if you think that you’re the only one who hears that narrative of doubt.)
(So does the other person, in his own head, and he’s just waiting for you to amplify it.)
(The point is to actually, truly, let that go.)