So what does this mean? According to Oxford Dictionary definition, Benefit of the doubt means an acceptance that a person is truthful or innocent if the opposite cannot be proved.
When you meet someone new, what are your initial feelings? What do you assume about this person? Do you see goodness and good will in their eyes or do you keep your eyes wide open and wait until they hurt so you can say “I told you …”? People have a tendency to choose the option of not believing in someone just because they don’t like the way he/she acts or what someone says about this person. We just think we’re protecting ourselves this way. It prevents us from being hurt. But through this process, we’re only closing up and keeping to ourselves. This option is also pretty selfish and judgemental. And you can’t be this person, right? So what to do?
Give them a chance
Give people the benefit of the doubt. Assume they are good, even when they make mistakes or do terrible things. I believe that you should assume they are good until proven otherwise. Sure. This attitude makes you vulnerable and once a while it might fail and they really turn out to be assholes. I am sure you’re going to feel bad about this then. But look at it from a another perspective. What are your other choices? Being negative, cynical and not trusting to people anymore? Whatch the news. There is already enough cynicism and hate in the world. Of course there are bad people out there. Who only do selfish things and don’t care about anyone else. Those people really exist in this world. But it’s good if you realize that they are a minority. Most people, including me, just want to enjoy their life and be happy. They want to have a home, loved ones, a good job, friends and so on. They want same things then you.
You have two options
If you want to surround yourself with good people, one way is to look for them. The way I prefer the most is from another area. Eliminating the bad people. We often can’t tell what circumstances lead people treat us bad (good article about prespective-taking). One of my rules is: If you fail me once, ok. If someone behaves like a jerk for the second or third time to me … yeah he/she may be ill, have a bad day at work. But for fourth time – you’re done. Get out of my life. I don’t want people in my life that abuse my trust all the time and suck energy from me. Little math at the end. If you give people the benefit of doubt, at the end of the day it is a benefit for you. You rather be disappointed every once a while then be cynical about everyone 100 % of the time. So in short: Failing in five people from ten is always better than not trusting anyone from those 10 people.
I always look for good in people. Sometimes it turns on me and I feel like an idiot for a bit, but I learned to deal with it. If you meet a new person tomorrow, give them a chance. It they fail you, try to focus more on understanding their actions, rather than labeling them as bad and negative people. Give them the benefit of the doubt.