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Where’s The Benefit In Benefit Of The Doubt?

I worked at an arts and crafts store for about 8 months. In this time, we lost an amazing manager and tried to rehire without any luck. This forced our assistant manager to step up and lead the store. Though she was strong socially, I’ll be the first to say that her managerial skills were lacking. While I’m not meaning to judge her personality, it makes it difficult to work and to put my all into something. Often times, you run into people in administrative positions who focus only on the negatives. This can ultimately lead to an unhealthy environment and feelings of self-doubt.

This is where the idea of giving the benefit of the doubt comes in. When somebody says or does something to intentionally hurt us, we're going to get hurt easily. It’s also just as easy to give them the benefit of the doubt. For example, if someone takes their bad grade out on you, it’s easy to say that maybe they’re just distracted or upset. It’s a good way of sparing their feelings and trying to see the best in people. 

Unfortunately, this method of “forgiving” can ultimately turn out poorly and let people take advantage of you. At an old job I had, I would often get reprimanded for doing the wrong thing whereas others who did the same wrong thing never got any heat. One time, I accidentally wore a hoodie to work and got sent home instead of just being asked to take it off, forcing me to walk home. About a week after that happened, one of my coworkers wore leggings which were seen as more unprofessional than a hoodie, yet she didn’t even get in trouble. 


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This became a bit of a vicious cycle. I would always be approached if I would make a mistake, while my managers would simply excuse my other co-worker's mistakes. I tried to forgive my managers and give them the benefit of the doubt by saying things like “you can’t stop everybody”, but ultimately I realized that they were taking advantage of me. While I wasn’t the type to make mistakes just because I felt like it, it made it seem like I was scrutinized for everything while others got away with it. Customers also did this, not just to me but to several of us. The worst part was, by not standing up for myself I was enabling their behavior to continue.

Eventually, I got tired of my old managers always scrutinizing me and my recent manager being rude to me and my coworkers for just trying our best. I was tired of dreading going to work because I didn’t want to be treated poorly by management. I ended up quitting both jobs for that reason, and even though I reconsidered doing that, I don’t regret the choice to put myself first. The thing I realized was that I was giving people the benefit of the doubt and excusing their behavior when I didn’t need to do that. People have bad days, that's normal. But when it gets to the point of finding yourself scrutinized and taken advantage of for hard work? That's inexcusable and you have to draw the line. 

This doesn’t only apply to the workplace. It can also apply to extra curriculars that you’re a part of, or even family affairs. If someone constantly treats you poorly, it doesn’t benefit anybody to continue to give them the benefit of the doubt and not take it seriously. I’m not saying you should never give the benefit of the doubt. It can work if the person is genuinely caring and doesn’t try to put you down just because they feel like it, or if it happens once and they learn from it or you establish boundaries. With that being said, there comes a time when you have to put that mindset aside and start recognizing your worth. 

Madison Kirkpatrick is a graduating 4th-year student majoring in Sociology. In her free time, you can find her writing, taking photos, fantasizing about traveling to Australia, or talking with her friends about the latest episodes of Survivor and her new guilty pleasure, The Challenge! Her future career will hopefully be in the LA or Bay Area and incorporate marketing, social media, photography, writing, or some mix of the four.
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