First, dear reader, let me ask you this question and I hope you’ll answer it honestly. Do you pre-judge people? Your first thought might be to say “no, of course not! I’m not prejudiced!” But that isn’t what I asked. I asked if you pre-judge people. Do you jump to conclusions about someone without really knowing the back-story? We all do it, whether we like to admit it or not, and it’s hard sometimes not to.
Think about it. Look at the pictures from the website for the people of Walmart. I’m willing to bet you’re passing a lot of different judgements on those people.
What about when you see a child misbehaving in public, and I mean really misbehaving, not just the typical tantrum. What kind of judgement are you passing on the parents of that child? Is it possible that the child has a mental disorder? Or that the child is in a situation where they didn’t get the social education they needed? Or maybe that child is just having a really bad day? Or maybe it is all the parents fault?
What about that homeless person you see on the corner? Maybe they’re just down on their luck, lost their home in a foreclosure or maybe they really are trying to beat the system and make good money begging?
How about that pretty PTA mom that has it all together? Maybe at home, she’s dying inside because she’s miserable in her marriage?
Maybe the jerk in the car that just cut you off isn’t really a jerk. Maybe he’s hurrying to get to the hospital because his wife is having an emergency c-section.
We all pass judgements. Sometimes we may be right. Maybe that homeless person is just a druggie looking to make their next score or the parents of the child throwing a tantrum really don’t care or the guy in the car really is a jerk. But maybe… what if… we’re wrong?
I’d like to challenge you today. When you go to the grocery store, convenient store or restaurant and the checkout clerk or waitress isn’t smiling, don’t just assume that person is a jerk or doesn’t really care about good customer service. Maybe that person got the news yesterday that a family member is dying of cancer or that the store/restaurant is downsizing and this is their last week at work. Or maybe they’re just daydreaming about taking a vacation away from the drudgery of work. I mean, don’t we all do that? Don’t we all have a day when we wish we were somewhere else?
Instead of grumbling to ourselves or complaining to the manager, how about telling the person, “Hey, I hope you have a good day,” and be sincere about it. Maybe, if you have the time (or even better – make the time), ask them how they are doing? TALK to them. You might find out that their child is sick with the H1N1 and they’re struggling to find someone to take care of him/her because they can’t afford to miss work. How many of you have been there before?
Don’t be judgmental. Chances are someone is out there judging you right now.