There is this person you don’t like. You don’t really know her but she behaves in a way which reminds you of your Latin teacher, she’s this tall, over-dressed, SUV-armed hectic housewife type of a woman and although you cross her paths quite often she does not even to have taken notice of you.
We all have at least one or a few individuals we not only ignore but we actively dislike – because of some specific behavior we cannot cope with. I’m not talking of having some real enemies but of judging everybody we see and of those objects of our assessments who couldn’t earn minimum scores to be accepted by us.
There is this woman. She’s a saleswoman in a drugstore nearby. She is a small person with thinning hair. Always having her short breaks when I pass the store, gossiping and chain-smoking her way to lung cancer. I can feel her dismissive glance in my back, passing her for my early morning run. In a word: a person I don’t like.
Last Tuesday evening, we needed a special kind of tea and I went to the drugstore. You know that kind of situation – it’s a few minutes before the shops close and you need something but you don’t have a clue where to find it. First, I tried by myself – after all I had seen this person – and this person only – roaming the store. But after a while, I gave up: I approached her and asked her for help.
I could not have been surprised more: this person approached me in a very friendly way and helped me finding the tea, not without additionally explaining – or rather apologizing – for this tea having been put in a different shell than most of the other teas. I was totally perplexed. I would never had expected this behavior: she approached me in a way which contradicted all of my preconceptions.
I thanked her, still asking myself whether this friendly sympathetic shop assistant really was the same person I previously had learned to dislike. After I had left the store I became aware of my reservations regarding some people – that I thought I had abandoned but that we’re quite alive, at least regarding this woman.
I realized that I thought to know that woman, that I was able to judge her based on some details of her behavior. How wrong I have been. The first time I communicate with her, I get rid of my preconception and I immediately start to like her. What a difference.
My learning: do not (prematurely) judge people! It’s not helpful at all, even if you think it helps you steering yourself through the hundreds or thousands of people you meet during your lifetime. Do not judge people! That’s one of the best words of advice ever.