People do not see what you see

I was talking to a friend recently about an email she sent.

She hadn’t received a response so she concluded that she had offended the recipient.

I chuckled and asked her to imagine another explanation.

Next up was something along the lines of “they didn’t respond because they’re not allowed to talk to me.”

And, “they’re taking time to respond because they’re filing a complaint with management.”

Every possibility centered around the assumption that the other person read the email.

I interjected,
– What if they didn’t read it?
– What if their Mom died?
– What if they accidentally deleted it?
– What if it was flagged as junk mail?
– What if they have hundreds of emails?

I asked her how many emails she has sitting in her inbox. She said “too many”…

As I recount this, more ideas spring to mind:
– What if they died?
– What if you used the wrong email address?
– What if your email server failed to transmit?

Once she admitted “I hadn’t thought of that” and “that is a good possibility” she found a sense of relief.

What is eating at you that rests on the assumption that other people see the exact same world that you do? How might you need to reassess the situation? What impact could that have?