My husband and I live in an apartment building with shared laundry rooms. Occasionally we put in a load early in the morning around 6:00 AM when we’re getting back from the gym. We can manage a load before we go to work and it’s one less chore left for the evening or weekend. On a recent such occasion my husband went to switch the clothes to the dryer to realize someone had placed a bottle of Clorox with the cap partially unscrewed in our washer. Some, but not all, of our clothes were ruined. “How many people are doing laundry at 6:00 in the morning?” I wanted to know. There were two other machines available on our floor and who knows how many open on our 17-floor building. Why would someone do this?

Frustrated, discussing the incident with a friend, she shared a recent laundry incident of her own. Her neighbor brought her a laundry card thinking my friend had left it in the laundry room. Assuming her neighbor was correct she accepted the card only to realize a week later she now had two cards. The card belonged to someone else who for the past week could have reasonably assumed the card was stolen. My friend planned to send an email to her building listserv, but there was no guarantee the owner of the card may read it. What if the owner of the card became skeptical of his or her neighbors?

We all make assumptions that inform our judgments and, consequentially, our decisions. If we only made decisions with full information, which is relative, we’d never get anything done. Limited knowledge makes the truth a matter of perception. When we perceive ourselves as wronged it’s worth evaluating how much we really know. Our relationships, both professional and personal, would benefit for it.