We are all aware about the concept of Love at First Sight. And most of us would have actually experienced it as well. For me, it was love at first sight with my now wife, when I first met her outside the office building. I knew she was the one.
However, love at first sight is rare, it may happen once in a lifetime or it may not happen at all. But there is another variation which we all experience, day in and day out. And that is something very important to understand and appreciate, as it is an essential building block for relationships of any kind – be it personal or profession. I’m referring here to the concept of ‘To Judge at first Sight’. And we all do it all the time.
Being judgmental is human, this post does not mean to preach about not being judgmental because it’s simply not possible, not to do judge people. However through my experiences, I have realized that it’s definitely wrong, to judge people at first sight. I have most often, proven wrong on this.
Last Christmas, we had gone to New York for vacations. We landed at Newark Airport, early in the morning. Since it was our first time here, we were hoping to reach the hotel without getting ourselves lost. I had written everything down from what I could gather on the internet. However when at the airport, I had some trouble locating the exit for the airport shuttle bus which would take us very close to our hotel.
As I was inquiring with a few people around me, a man started approaching me. He was black American, in mid 50’s, wearing an old coat. He looked a bit messed up, with his unshaven look, and hair, that was not combed. I was a bit hesitant and told my wife to stand behind me.
He approached me and asked, “Sir where do you want to go?” I tried to avoid looking at him and decided to keep walking ahead, as though I did not hear him. Again he asked me, “Sir you can tell me, I can help “. I thought he must be some trickster, who would end up asking money in return for the help. But I had shoo him away someway,so gathered some courage and told him “Its fine. Just figuring out”
I was a bit tense, was new to this city. Just landed after a long and tiring flight, and not sure what is this guy is up to. But he continued to ask me the same question.
So I thought instead of running away let me confront him and get this done once and for all, I looked towards him and asked, “I am looking for the bus to Penn station”. To which he promptly replied , “You go straight son, and then take a left and take the fourth exit, you will find the airport shuttle bus station”. Once he said this, I patiently waited to check if he would ask me some money.But what he said next shocked me. “Why were you running? I am a customer service official at Newark Airport. What did you think? ”
I had no reply to this. So I just said “Thank You” and moved ahead.
As i was walking toward the directions this person gave me, I was felt terrible for being judgmental about him from the moment he approached me. I was so wrong.
It’s not the first time I did this. In fact, a lot of people would identify with this behavior. Yes, he could have been what I was thinking of, but atleast I could have been more careful. Instead of judging straightaway, could have alteast explored a bit more.
As human beings, we generally tend to label people upfront, based on our assumptions and past experiences. Sure, past experiences do help us to understand things lot better, however, labeling people without enough due diligence or on first sight is almost always the wrong thing to do.
Even in our professional life, we form opinions too quickly. In entrepreneurship, we make such mistakes all the time, we quickly form opinions for a lot of things – about people while recruiting, about projects – which one to focus on, about clients – who we think would be more suitable to spend time on. All of them simply based on our initial impression. Big decisions, we tend to take a call based on the first impressions, which we later regret about. While there are times when this is needed due to lack of time, however making this a habit is something which should be avoided.
I think what’s important, is we realize that most opinions made based our previous experience, or assumptions may not always hold true, and we need to evaluate them based on current set of information and give it a fair chance. That would help us making a better decision and build better relations be it personal or professional.