Judging People

The assumptions we make about people can cause us to behave a certain way toward them. If they appear poor, shy, or not well spoken, we may be rude or ignore them at best.

By: Natasha Morgan

We all do it, no matter how much we try to avoid it. There are not many who are so pure of heart that they can honestly say each time they make a new acquaintance, they keep an open mind.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a quote that we’ve all heard but in western societies making judgments about people is common place.

Not convinced? Let me give you a few examples:
My brother-in-law in his youth was a musician who worked in recording studios. The “gigs” paid well and he was able to go to work in jeans and a t-shirt. In between “sessions” he had time to kill so he wandered to a nearby Rolls Royce dealership. Through hard work, he had finally reached a point in his career that he could afford to buy a luxury automobile. When he asked how much it was, the salesman replied curtly “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it”. Making an erroneous judgment cost the salesman a commission he could ill afford to lose.

I once worked with a young man named Ron. Like many jobs, we had stringent deadlines and when our project was completed, the team was in a habit of meeting at the local pub to celebrate. On each occasion, Ron declined and waved good-night to us as he hopped on a bus homeward bound. We tried to convince him to join us but when he continued to resist, many of us thought him to be a “poor sport” and unsociable. It wasn’t until months later that I learned that he lived in the suburbs and didn’t own a car. Buses didn’t run very late in his neighbourhood so staying in the city after work was not an option for him. He couldn’t afford an apartment in the city nor a car because he was sending a substantial portion of his salary to his mother whose only income was a window’s pension. Of course Ron didn’t talk about it; it was his private business.

One more example:
A woman in her 20’s who worked at a local Seven Eleven store looked tired and was not particularly well groomed. Her hair could use styling and her clothes were far from neat. ‘I suppose that’s the best help you can get when you’re paying minimum wage”, was my thought as I left the store. Weeks later, on my way to a medical appointment at our local hospital, I ran across the same young woman pushing a catering cart. I recognized her and asked if she had left her job at the store. “Oh no ma’am, I still work there too. You see, college tuitions keep rising and I’m having one heck of a time paying my rent and attending law school.” Not in my wildest dreams did I expect that answer. She was a hard working woman who despite the lack of financial resources was going to fulfil her ambitions, but because of her appearance, I had judged her to be otherwise.

The assumptions we make about people can cause us to behave a certain way toward them. If they appear poor, shy, or not well spoken, we may be rude or ignore them at best. If they are well dressed and drive an expensive car, we tend to be friendly toward them.

Search your soul and recall the last time you greeted the landscapers or garbage collectors working in your neighbourhood. You just never know about people unless you get to know them.

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