I’ve been feeling a bit like a restaurant lately, which is an uncomfortable thing to admit. I’m not used to comparing myself to buildings, much less ones that serve food, especially considering that I am a notoriously poor cook. Nonetheless, it dawned on me recently just how perfect this metaphor is to describe a phenomenon that I believe is fairly common among people in general, not just me. In fact, I bet you’ve felt like a restaurant plenty of times before; you just didn’t describe it in these terms.
This is an intentionally brutal statement, although it just so happens to be true. Guessing seems benign enough, so how can something so seemingly timid as guessing actually kill a relationship? Well, when we guess, specifically when we guess the meaning behind what another person is thinking, feeling, saying or doing (or has done in the past), we choose “thinking we know” over actually knowing. Then, once we assume we know something, we invariably halt our efforts to discover the truth. Instead of seeking to learn more, we may find ourselves reacting to something that may not even be reality. Why? Because we guessed.
Of the many people you know—family, friends, co-workers or classmates, neighbors, the locals at your favorite restaurant or bar or café, the people who work at your most frequented stores, and everyone else who has crossed your path at one time or another—each has their own perspective about who and how you are. You have, whether you like it or not, a reputation.