If I underestimate you, I put myself at a massive disadvantage. Suppose that I go ahead and underestimate you. I might assume that you’re a loser who will never go places in life because you’re simply NOT GOOD at one aspect of your life. Well that’s just great for me, because one of two possibilities will result:
- You’re going to work your butt off in that one region of life and eventually become really successful at what you do. As in like a lot better than me. As in like, I might not pay attention to the progress you make because I’ve already cast you as a failure who will never achieve anything substantial (in that one certain aspect of life). I tell myself that there’s not a chance that you could ever reach, let alone surpass my level of “success and expertise” for whatever we’re competing for. Perhaps I disregard your ability, and I underestimate you. Grand mistake on my part. I’ve undervalued your determination, your perseverance, and your willpower. And by the time I’ve pulled my face away from the spot on the wall I’ve been staring at much too intently, by the time I’ve taken a step back to evaluate any potential “threats” or “competitors,” it will be too late.
- You’re going to realize that the one aspect of life that we’ve been focusing on isn’t such a significant part of your life, and that you’re probably better at something else for which I am inadequate. It might hold more value in your eyes, so it might just make sense for you to abandon the competition we’ve been maintaining. You might take with you the experience and lessons you’ve learned, so that overall, you are a well rounded person. You are going to instead invest your time and energy into something else and leave me in the dust. Because you know what? That one particular aspect of life doesn’t define who you are, and it certainly doesn’t define your value as a person. If I am foolish enough to think that it does, then that’s just an arbitrary, self-serving assertion made that will only come back to smack me in the face in the future.
Do you know why these things are going to happen? Because I don’t know you as well as you know yourself. I don’t know what you go through, and I certainly don’t know what your life is like. I don’t know your past, present and future, and I don’t know your morals and values. I know, at best, just one side of you, and it’s wrong of me to assume that knowing just one side of you is enough to reflect your entire character, because chances are, it doesn’t.
Assumption leads to stereotype, which only yields generalization and arbitrary misinterpretation.
The moral of the story is: don’t assume unless you have to. It will only end up hurting others and yourself. You have nothing to gain from assuming, so why not just evaluate everyone equally, because nothing positive has ever resulted from underestimation in the past, and it certainly won’t lead to anything good in the future.