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The Benefit of Doubt

Over the years, the term has found its use in several contexts. In layman's terms, giving someone the benefit of doubt essentially means choosing to believe in someone, even when you're not sure what the opposite person is saying is true. It is a virtue that is as trivial as it is difficult to adopt.

In more than 90% of the cases, we choose to blame someone rather than giving the person the benefit. And why shouldn't we? It is so much easier to cope up with any unfavourable situation when there is someone to blame rather than accepting the situation as it is. Let us take the simplest of examples for our generation to understand. We all have undergone a situation where we're texting someone, waiting for a reply, albeit of any kind, and somehow the opposite person replies after a much longer time than you would've expected, with the other person claiming he/she was busy. You very well know the person could've simply read the text from the notifications and has just chosen to ignore it for the time being, or he/she could've been genuinely busy. How difficult it gets to accept the latter. You get the point. And we all have to make hundreds of such choices on a daily basis, with each choice having different complexities and different levels of importance in our lives. Arriving late for work, not picking up a call, skipping meetings, and the list could go on and on. More often than not, we end up avoiding a confrontation and developing an inherent bias for the person for something he/she might not have even done.

It might seem at the onset that there is no considerable harm in adopting such a lifestyle, and why would there be? People don't even know what you're thinking of them. Okay, it's starting to make more sense, right? These biases pile up with time, and we end up judging others at every step. It affects our decision-making skills and hampers our risk-taking skills. It compromises our ability to work in a team and has ripple effects that affect other performance verticals as well. How're you a good leader if you keep second-guessing your team all the time, right? It creates a feeling of self-doubt and uncertainty, which ultimately affect our problem-solving skills as well. In the end, "Anything that costs you your peace is too expensive," and this mentality will cost you dearly.

The good thing is, unlike other skills, you don't have to learn them or acquire them over time. Every time a situation comes knocking, you'll know what to do; all you have to do is make the right choice. It seems pretty simple, doesn't it? Yes, I know what you're thinking; what about all those occasions when you were right in not giving the benefit of doubt, and the person was actually in the wrong? How bad would it have been if that were the case? You've given someone a second chance, and at the end of the day, you're still happy! It doesn't seem too bad, does it? Well, I'm no expert, so you do the math, and next time you face such a choice, choose wisely.

Author: Poojan Modi, Final Year Undergraduate, IIT Gandhinagar Image Credit:

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