The Statistical View of “Evil Intention” vs “Silliness”

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

I recently joined a project team as an expert to support remotely. Everything related to work is communicated within the work chat group and people are expected to be responsible due to the tight timeline.

Last Wednesday, the project manager had to take half day off for a presentation to another client.

So throughout the day, the other team members covered as much as possible for the project manager and she replied messages whenever she could.

Everything was going well.

Until the Partner asked the project manager to prepare a speech outline for the client CEO in the chat group.

This was a task not easily covered by other members of the team, as the outline required full understanding of project status, stakeholder relations, client management intentions etc etc.

And everyone had enough on their hands anyway.

So no one replied on behalf of the project manager and the project manager only replied in the late afternoon with a clarification question.

Till now, everything seemed normal.

What caused some doubts was that the partner never replied, even though the reply @ the partner.

The speed outline was clearly important. But why would the partner not reply?

There was some guessing whether the partner was not happy with the project manager or maybe the partner did not have the answer for the question either which could indicate unclear directions for the project going forward.

The doubts was only cleared when the partner finally replied the message in the chat group, explaining that she missed the message. And the answer to the question was clear and in line with team’s expectation.

All those guesses and worries proved to be a waste of time and only added a bit more stress to the already stressful team.

Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash

This is a minor incident and I might have over-interpreted it. However, it did make me think that:

Try to interpret with “Silliness” as much as possible, instead of “Evil Intentions”.

“Silliness” here includes all kinds of unintentional behaviors, e.g. ignorance and negligence.

This is not self-comforting. This is a statistical reality.

Just think about it.

What are the chances that your manager who usually responds very promptly suddenly gives no reply to your important email because he no longer trusts you? Most probably, for whatever reason, he has not seem your email yet.

What are the chances that your colleague does not invite you to his/her birthday lunch because he/she does not like you any more? Most probably, he/she did not plan it and just went with whoever he/she could gather.

What are the chances that your three-year old son insists on playing with you while you have to rush for deadline with the intention to cause you work problems? He just wants to play with you because he likes you. This is the best “Good Intention” one can get.

The real actions of “Evil Intention” are not so common, while interpreting so by mistake is much too common.

Therefore, try to interpret with “Silliness” as much as possible, instead of “Evil Intentions”.

This might be closer to reality and is a better way to interact with the world.



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