(Featured image from THE BUDAPEST BEACON)

Whether you live in a rural community or in a city, life has become very fast-paced for all of us. More and more folks are multi-tasking, taking on extra work to make ends meet, and otherwise running all over the place. As a consequence, we see and interact with a great many more people than we used to. We form relationships faster out of necessity, and must assess the people we come into contact with more quickly. But the rush to judgement can be a huge pitfall if we are not careful.

Think about it for a moment. Each of us has his own personal story. No one has lived in your shoes, trodden your unique path, or experienced life in quite the way you have. And not everyone you meet will have the benefit of knowing the depth of your story. But they will form impressions of you from the moment you are introduced. Is that fair? Perhaps not, but  it is the way most relationships work. You meet someone and conclude things about them based on how they look and dress, whether they give you a firm or floppy handshake, how they speak and what they say – fast talker, rambler, in your face, loud laugher – all these things factor into how we respond to others. But they are usually not a good gauge of who they really are.

I know  I have gone to the store with dirty, messy hair, no makeup, looking like a shlump, not caring a shit about what anyone thinks.  And I have no doubt that others make small assumptions about me based on how I look. But what if I had a sleepless night worrying about an article I have a deadline for, got out of bed exhausted and anxious? Would that change how other people saw me? Yes, it would. It would say a lot about how I am feeling, which changes everything.

If you are judgmental, you may rob yourself of the opportunity to meet someone unique, someone intelligent, someone perceptive, someone hilariously funny, someone kind and compassionate. Even a really apparent jerk on the outside, or someone nasty and spiteful, has a story that could change everything about how you see them. You have to look hard at a person to learn who they are. I paraphrase this, but Wayne Dyer said something like when you level judgement at another person, you do not define them, but rather you define yourself. This is very true especially if you tend to be catty and critical.

You learn more about others and yourself when you give each person you meet a chance to reveal themselves to you in their own time. Making assumptions may seem appropriate in certain circumstances, but even in work environments where we must perform with others and don’t work in isolation, we will get along better and do better jobs if we refrain from impulsive judgments and allow ourselves to get to know people. We would want the same consideration, wouldn’t we?