Victim Turned Thief, Taking the Biscuit – Establishing Context and Challenging Assumptions

“I do not fear truth. I welcome it. But I wish all of my facts to be in their proper context.” – Gordon B. Hinckley

Victim Turned Thief

Imagine the scene. You board the train, you are there early to ensure you get a great seat. You have your coffee ready for the journey. You have downloaded the latest episode of House of Cards. You are ready for a peaceful journey. Beside you on the empty seat, a packet of your favorite biscuits (Fox’s honey comb crunch). Bliss. As the train takes off, a man sits beside you in a very entitled manner. He picks up the biscuits, takes one and munches it down with his cup of tea. You don’t know where to look, how dare he? He takes a second. He takes a third! You pluck up the courage and grab one yourself. Looking quite perturbed, he grabs another one. Barely, finished scoffing down your last one, you inhale another. This tit for tat continues until the packet is empty. Furious, you throw your things into your bag and storm off to find a seat somewhere else. When you settle in to your new seat you take out your computer and there at the bottom of your bag is your packet of biscuits, unopened. Erm, What Just Happened?

Challenging Our Assumptions

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

As humans we need to create context. There is no logic for a human brain without first having context. As this is true, then we need to be mindful of what context we create and then manage that context. The context we create dictates our reaction. Those who have taken the GreenLine course will understand how our primitive brain (Red Brain) is triggered. When this “fight or flight” brain is in charge we have limited capacity to make logical decisions. This is why we make rash decisions in these moments. To understand context, my colleague and co-founder of GreenLine Blair Steinbach explains context in 2 minutes here:

Red Card – Making Assumptions

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place” – George Bernard Shaw

Shaw’s quote fits right in when it comes to making assumptions. We all bring our assumptions “into” every interaction, but also take them “out of” every interaction. How often have you discovered two weeks after a meeting that you emerged with a completely different understanding of what you thought was agreed? With this in mind, let’s revisit our experience on the train. Let us assess how we showed up in that situation. The first red card we played was we “assumed” the biscuits were ours. This was super powered by the fact our “fight or flight” (Red Brain) took over and we were not at our full thinking capacity. This became a Molotov cocktail for a disastrous interaction. Our next faux pas was the context we created. We had created a context where we were the victim. It was not until later when the thinking brain (Green Brain) was back in charge did if we realise what we had done. If you change the context, you change the problem you see and then you change the problem you solve. And that is how the cookie crumbles 🙂

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