“Judgments prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances”
How many times have you made an assumption about someone based on what you saw or heard? Someone did something or said something and immediately you reacted and drew a conclusion. We tend to look at things and come to a conclusion very quickly; often times if we had just a little more information our assumptions may be entirely different.
Here is an example that I share with many of my coaching clients; this is a true story that happened to me years ago…
It was weeks before Christmas and the stores were abuzz with people doing their last minute shopping. The excitement was in the air and so was the stress visible on many faces. Such was the case as I stood at the men’s wallet counter at Macy’s (then Marshall Fields). I was one of four customers who were waiting in line to be served; ‘patience’ was not one of them .
As I waited and observed I soon became aware that everyone was quite put-off and irritated. I wasn’t sure if they were reacting more at the idea of having to wait or the rude and short-fused demeanor of the single staff person behind the counter. With every interaction, the energy grew more and more tense. I waited patiently as the sales person finished up with one customer and then turned to me.
“Can I help you?”, she muttered in a less than polite manner as her face showed signs of complete disinterest and frustration. Now it was my turn to respond and I knew I had a choice. I could take the, then popular approach, of equal frustration at having to wait to be served and the displeasure of having been addressed without the cordiality we expect from sales staff or make another choice. I knew better than to respond the first way. I had learned that to draw quick conclusions was to neglect the possibility that there was something, not easily seen or known, that was contributing to that experience. I then proceeded…”You know, I’m not in a real hurry, why don’t you take care of the others (who were stewing in their dissatisfaction) and then come back to me.” “Fine” she muttered not even noticing I had given her a slight reprieve and the ability to ‘catch up’. She proceeded to assist the others, one-by-one as I waited and continued to observe.
Finally, I was the only one left. “Now can I help you”? Her manner had only slightly relaxed now that I was her only customer left. “Yes you may” I replied with all the kindness I could muster up. I proceeded, “I can tell that you are having a really bad day here and I’m sorry for that”. Those words were what she needed for her feelings to be validated. She began to cry and humbly confide…”I am so sorry… I received a call a while ago from my best friend. Her father passed away unexpectedly and he was like a father to me. I’ve having a really difficult time holding it together and I didn’t mean to take it out on anyone”. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. “That is quite alright”, I assured her, “I knew there was more to it than just a bad day”.
We proceeded to talk further about the event, about her relationship with her friend’s father. She shared more and with each word, her demeanor was changing. She relaxed; she opened up and welcomed the opportunity to express her sadness and to give her emotions a voice. Her anger and weariness gave way to her real feelings and her vulnerability.
I left after purchasing the wallet and after being thanked for my understanding. My compassion had freed her up and allowed her a small window where she could be authentic and cry the tears she had been holding back. Perhaps that conversation freed her up to get through the rest of the day a little more easily; I won’t know for sure but I like to think it did.
What if we all took this approach in our life? What if we gave one-another the benefit of the doubt? What if we willingly looked past what we were seeing or hearing and were to conceive that something else might be underneath it all…contributing to the scenario at hand? What would happen if we didn’t REACT to others but rather RESPONDED and chose compassion as part of that response? Perhaps we would find that the conclusions we were quick to draw were based on false or half information.
Your compassionate coach,
PS – How would your life be impacted if you developed clearer vision by practicing compassion? What difference would it make in your work life? How about in your family life? And to the children in your charge? Success is multi-dimensional… how are you doing in ALL the areas of your life?
PSS – I invite you to schedule your FREE strategy session with me… let’s explore what total life success would look like for you and those that love you. Press HERE to schedule it now!