Mental Model Mondays #8: Most Respectful Interpretation

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Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.

This week’s mental model is called the ‘most respectful interpretation’, or ‘MRI’ for short.


This model can be used mainly to empathise with people and understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

In any situation, there can be many explanations for a person’s behaviour.

By using the MRI, we interpret the other person’s behaviour in the most respectful way possible. It’s essentially giving the person the benefit of the doubt, and assuming their behaviour comes from a very solid reason.


-Let’s say someone unexpectedly ran past you very quickly, almost hitting you and making you fall over.

The first thoughts we might get to explain their behaviour is that they’re simply a horrible and rude human being. I mean, they didn’t even turn around and say ‘sorry’!

If we’re going to use the MRI, we would instead think that the person must have a reason to be in a hurry. Perhaps he’s late to a very important job interview that might finally change his life? Maybe he’s on his way to meet a loved one he hasn’t seen in a long time and can’t wait to see them again? Maybe there’s some kind of medical emergency he needs to attend to?

Once we imagine these scenarios, it might be easier to sympathise with this person and thus move on with our day. Basically, using an MRI is a great way to release some anger and ill-feelings towards people, and helps you get a level-headed look at a situation.


So, the next time you feel inclined to make an accusation about someone, first take a step back and think about whether that is really a fair assumption to make. If you were in their shoes in the MRI, would you behave in the same way?

That’ll probably do it for this post then. Sorry it might seem short, but college really has been doing my head in recently.

Stay safe, and I’ll hopefully see you guys in another post 👋🏼

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