One of the many Cognitive Biases – errors in thinking when interpreting the world around us – is Self-Serving Bias. Defined as ‘the tendency to claim more responsibility for successes than failures,’ it can be summarized as judging myself by my intentions and judging others by their actions.
When I mess up something, my typical reaction is: ‘Yes, but I meant to pick up milk on the way home.’ When my wife fails to do something similar, I say: ‘But you told me you were going to wash my socks.’ Turns out I hold others to a much higher standard than I do myself.
When out to dinner with another couple, I really hope he picks up the check, and if he doesn’t, I’m fine saying, ‘Let’s split it.’ When going to a ballgame, I really want my buddy to say, ‘I’ll drive,’ and if he doesn’t, I’ll ask, ‘So how do you want to get there?’ When my co-facilitator is five minutes late for our departure, I’m really thinking, ‘How can he not be on time?’ although there are plenty of occasions when I’m a few minutes late for things.
Perhaps a restating of the Golden Rule would be: ‘Stop thinking so much about me.’ That one might actually lead to healthier relationships and provide better results than the old adage.