Do we always follow the lede?

I got to thinking about that last post and why I felt I needed to write it. Here’s what I’m thinking:

When we get one kind of phone call, we immediately think about the worst that could happen. An example is the call I got when I was out of town, about a leak in the apartment roof that was letting water in. It was affecting the smoke alarms in the building. Rather than accept that at face value and think about how little it could mean, I started imagining a dry wall ceiling full of water collapsing into my apartment, only to bury my computer and furniture.

The result was actually quite different: a small ring of discoloration around a smoke detector.

Why did I immediately think the worst? Why didn’t I just think it was probably a minor issue to begin with? One that I could deal with in good time, after my short holiday?

I guess a lack of information at the start may have played a part. I got the message from my landlord, who’d heard from the building manager at the end of a long day. We all know how stories change as they pass from person to person. Information gets added or lost in translation.

But if the call had been from someone telling me I might have won a million bucks, that would have been different. No matter how many mouths it had gone through, I would have thought about all the neat things I could do with the money. I wouldn’t have thought about all the scam artists that were going to haunt me and all the things I’d need to do protect myself.

Wonder why we do that?

Extreme examples, I know. But it makes me wonder: do we always follow the lede? A positive lede results in positive thinking, and a negative lede starts negative thoughts? That’s something to think about when we communicate with others.

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