#224: Judging Others
Monday, February 08, 2010
"Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are - or, as we are conditioned to see it." Stephen Covey
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While I waited in a lab today to have a blood sample drawn, I watched the other people in the room and thought of how easy it would be to draw inferences about them from the way they were dressed, the way they talked and the way they treated others also waiting.
It would have been easy to presume that the guy dressed in a tattered t-shirt and jeans and wearing tennis shoes with holes in the sides was a poor drug addict and the man in a nice Polo shirt, slacks and dress shoes was an upper income executive.
But, as I learned a long time ago, first impressions are often incorrect and misleading.
As I talked with the possible druggie in for his drug screen test, I discovered that he ran a successful lawn service, a company whose name I was familiar with. He explained that he was overhauling some of the firm's equipment and forgot his quarterly blood test, to check cholesterol and other levels, the same as mine. He had rushed to the lab before he ate a late breakfast because he had to fast for the tests. Thus the way he was dressed. He was polite and enthusiastic when he talked about his company.
I didn't speak with the man in the nice clothes but from his rudeness in making cell phone calls in the small waiting room and his tone on the phone, I did not want to speak with him. His attitude was one of arrogance and elitism and he seemed to want everyone waiting to know that he was so busy his calls couldn't wait. Nor did he deem it polite to step outside to use the phone.
Two other men could easily have been pictured simply as retirees but one elderly man was a WWII vet while another volunteered several days a week at his church's food pantry, registering those in need and helping distribute supplies.
Then there was the daughter with her elderly mother who seemed not to understand where she was or why she was there. I could only imagine the stories this lady could tell of growing up if she had been able.
As in any collection of people, there will be those who are courteous and polite, those who are not what they seem, those who seek to show off their self-imposed importance and those who are genuine, down to earth friendly people.
Yes, it would have been easy to draw inferences, but I've discovered that it is much more pleasant to actually try to get to know a bit about the person and not to make rash judgments.
Isn't this a lesson for us all?
What's the old saying, "Never judge a book by its cover?"