I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch the other day. As I approached the restaurant there was a mother with her young son of about 10. I arrived at the door first and waited as I held the door for her. As they passed by and through the door I overheard her say to her son, “We’re only two minutes late. It’s okay.”
I have to admit that my initial thought was, “Wow, what values are you teaching your son? If it’s okay to be 2 minutes late is 3 okay? How about 5? What about 10? When you head down a slippery slope you usually end up at the bottom, and it’s a mess down there.
Then Sharon in my office asked me, “Why were they late? What is the back story?” Well, I didn’t know the back-story and that was her point. I was passing judgment of what this woman was telling her son and I didn’t know the complete story. Maybe they were coming from the doctors’ office and the doctor threw them late. Maybe something happened and the mom was comforting her son so he wouldn’t feel bad, so she was telling him they were only two minutes late. Maybe there was a lot more to the story than I knew.
I didn’t know her story. I didn’t know why she was late. I may have come to a conclusion about her that may not have been truth. I was concerned about the message she was teaching her son and I had judged her in that process.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of being judgmental. Drawing opinions without facts is the first step in that direction and down that slippery slope. When we start judging people we start to value people less. When that happens we stop being accountable and, well, you see how that way of thinking is going to end up.
Many times we judge others in an effort to pump ourselves up. If they are less then we must be more. If they are weaker we must be stronger. The truth is that our worth is not based on anyone else’s. We determine whether we are good people, do the right things, deliver value to those around us.
I didn’t realize that I was being judgmental. Our response to situations shows us what we believe. I had negative thoughts in that situation rather than having positive thoughts. I would rather lead with positive thoughts. I would rather see the possibilities in any situation rather then interpret situations through a filter of negativity. Thinking in this manner takes awareness and an effort on my side. I slipped up here but I’m going to renew my efforts to see more of the positive side and eliminate judgmental thoughts.
When we stop judging others and start working on ourselves then we position ourselves to better serve the people around us and be accountable to them.