Words are truly powerful instruments, tools that we have at our disposal yet do not always use with care.
Recently, I was speaking with a former co-worker, a person who I purposely avoided speaking too during our brief time together. Why? This person had never directly done anything to offend me. She never spoke poorly of me, to my knowledge, if my name came up in conversation, and yet, if I found myself in a situation in which we may be in direct contact, I would attempt to find myself otherwise occupied, so that I would not have to speak to her. I realize now that it was not fair to this co-worker of mine, yet at the time, I was relying on the assumptions..the words, of others, as to why I did not want to interact with her.
It led me to wonder, when we formulate opinions of others based upon information that more often than not is incorrect, why are we not more willing to seek out the truth? Why do avoid the possibility of getting to know this person better from the source..the actual person? Why do we allow ourselves to become comfortable with the pre-determined judgments of others, and in the process, isolate ourselves from what could possibility be a great person or a great friendship?
As our conversation progressed, she too shared with me the assumptions that are other co-workers had created about me, content to spread words to others without verifying the information they were spreading. It did not offend me, as I have moved past that particular stage of my life, but again, it made me wonder why we use our words as weapons, rather than as a basis to confirm information. Certainly, we have the pre-disposition to create judgments about others. These judgments allow our brains to organize and classify information so that we can understood the world around us. That portion of ourselves is simply human nature.
Of course, these judgments do not merely apply to co-workers, whether they be current or former. These judgements apply to others as well. We have all found ourselves, at one point or another during our parenting “careers”, classifying parents not by the every day interactions that they have with their children, but by the minor glimpses that we catch of their lives, often for that parent at the worst time, when their child or children are having meltdowns and are commanding our attention. We have reprimanded the parents in our heads and corrected the behaviors of the children, questioning as to why the child’s actual parents did not do it in the way that we did.
However, it does not make a person inferior. The moment at which you interact with another person, whether it be in a corporate or even a parenting setting, is only a slice of life for that individual. On the surface, it may seem as if that parent is failing to parent, or that co-worker is a person we do not really want to get to know better because of a behavior that we may disagree with, or an attitude that we do not like. If we allow ourselves to dig deeper however, we may find that under the veil of judgment we have placed upon the situation the or person, there is a greater wealth of information that they are willing to share, and we may actually find ourselves wanting to get to know that person better.
So friends, I urge you. Rather than resting content, comfortable with the judgements of others, or even the ones that we create ourselves, I challenge you to look further. Dig past the surface information, the opinions of others, and get to know that person better.
I did, and she’s really quite wonderful