Making Assumptions to Conserve Brain Energy

Posted by & filed under authentic communication, interpersonal neurobiology.

I know first impressions count. And yet I do not take that much stock in them. I mean we are all products of our experiences and that includes the hours before we meet each other.

Consider all that can affect a person’s mood and how and why they may show up a specific way – then watch for themes and only then start – and just start – to make assumptions. How often have you said or heard a friend say, “It’s weird when I first met him – he was awesome and then it’s like he’s Jekyll and Hyde” or “She used to be so polished, I can’t understand why she has such an unprofessional and casual demeanor. She really took me off guard.”

Of course sometimes we do change. And often it was just that we had a very bad or a very good day when we first met someone. Still, it seems to me that a more powerful way to learn about another is to temper assumptions and to become adaptive in how we see others. At the point that we can digest themes or repeated behaviors is when it may serve us better to create our own interpretations of others and their intentions. Even then we can be wrong.

Someone said to me recently “I try not to question the intention of others.” And my first reaction was to respond saying – “Sure but perhaps if we all questioned more – we may understand each other better.” Upon further reflection I think I get what she is saying. We can analyze so much we misinterpret why someone acted in a particular way.

I do believe there is a middle ground. Brains and minds need to make sense of surroundings and input in a way that takes the least amount of energy. I read in a book that our brain has the ability to use about as much energy as 40-watt light bulb. If this is the case, it makes sense that we rush to conclusions. We are trying to save energy. So, sure – we may have to rely on assumptions and quick interpretation of others. It’s a safety thing – it’s a survival thing – it a human thing. Can’t we though remind ourselves that we do this because our brain needs us to and that we can make mistakes? I just think it is a good thing to remember our environment affects us every day – which means it colors our interactions with others. We are not always what we appear to be. Understanding, open-minds, forgiveness, acceptance and inquisitiveness are empowering.

One Response to “Making Assumptions to Conserve Brain Energy”

  1. admin

    Good point – when there is less room for confusion – then less energy is expended on areas of concern that are not related to team or organizational goals.


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