I am sitting at the traffic light today waiting to cross the road on my way to the post office and a big white pick-up truck pulls up next me. He is in the left turn lane and I am in the “go straight across or turn right if you want to lane.” The light is red and I’m watching the traffic come straight across and also turn left in front of me because they have the only green light at this moment.
All of a sudden, the guy in the pick-up next to me moseys out into the middle of the street and turns left on red. Now I know that “right turn on red” is acceptable after a stop and if the coast is clear…but left turn on red? I must have missed this latest MVA notice! My first response is “holy cow I am about to witness an accident!” Once I see that there is no accident, my next response is “what is this guy doing?” What an idiot! OOOOPS…there it is. I judged the guy right there. And seriously…I mess stuff up all the time. I am a perfect example of imperfection!
You see, I know what I saw and how I interpreted what I saw…but in reality I have no idea what was really going on did I? I made a snap judgement without all the information. Yes, he could in fact have been thinking, well the coast is clear, I’m going…but probably not. It was broad daylight at 1:30 in the afternoon at a busy intersection. My guess in retrospect is that something else was going on. Maybe the guy had a lot on his mind and just spaced out? Maybe there was an emergency and he needed to go save someone or take someone to the hospital. Maybe he just made a mistake and thought the light had changed and then realized it as he started and felt like it was too late to stop? I have no idea…and that’s the entire point.
How often do we judge others based on our little and limited view of their behavior? If we are honest we do it more than we would like to admit. In all relationships this is a major issue. There’s a lot better way to get our exercise than jumping to conclusions or rushing to judgement. With people in which we have very little relational history, a quick, incorrect, and voiced judgement can end any chance of developing the relationship further. This is highly detrimental in business. Even if you are thinking it…keep it to yourself. But even better, give it some thought and observe to see over time if you are thinking in the right way. Often you’ll find you probably weren’t.
In our close relationships this can spawn conflict. I know I am guilty of this all too often. We need to practice giving people the benefit of the doubt. Instead of judging them, ask questions about it so you can learn. You could ask something like “I noticed you did this a certain way, why did you take that approach?” Or, you can always give yourself even more wiggle room by saying “It seems to me that you did…am I thinking right?” Being aware of our propensity to judge is the first step in reigning it in…and trust me on this we definitely want to reign this one in! If you have any thoughts or tips or experiences you can share on this topic that could help our readers, please share them!