Too Quick to Judge

by | Thoughts

I was a passenger on a public transportation system, almost three thousand miles away from home.  I began to notice that one of the transit conductors was staring toward me. It appeared to be a stern look, and I became troubled.

Within a matter of minutes, this conductor moved toward me, bent down and whispered in my ear, “You might want to give your billfold to your wife and let her put it in her purse. Your billfold is sticking out of your pocket and the credit cards may prove to be too big a temptation for some folks.”

I was shocked – not merely because of his thoughtful words. My wife had been warning me about this possibility for years. I was shocked because I had earlier noticed the gentleman and perceived him to be cold, callous and perhaps even dangerous.

Just as I misjudged that gentleman, many of us, in the midst of a “focus crisis,” misjudge our team members in two ways. Many times, we think that people who are quiet and removed from us do not care about us, are aloof, or stuck up. I understand the concept of transparency – some people can read us, some can see through our actions, our phony cover-up; some people are too quick to make a judgment. Sizing up another individual can be wrong. I have certainly been wrong – just as I was wrong about the transit conductor. The people least expected to help you in the midst of your situation or crisis may be the ones who help you the most – the ones who have previously appeared to be disinterested in you. Those may be the very ones who come to your rescue.

There is a secondary manner in which many of us misjudge our team members. As we are trying to recapture focus, some of us act as if the only ones who care about us are those who affirm us. I have always encouraged positive and “particularized” reinforcement, because we are all insecure partners. Everyone wants to receive encouragement, either verbally or in writing, for the work that they do.

Sometimes those who are there in the midst of our confusion are concerned enough to confront us. Do not jump to conclusions or misjudge those who want to help you recapture your focus. Those who applaud the most may not always be there in your time of need. Those who criticize may actually be the most dependable and loyal. Encouragement can come in the form of a “caring confrontation.”

When you find yourself in a jam, when you have a situation and it is getting the best of you, do not close yourself off from your team members. You might be surprised who comes to your rescue, who provides you with a spark of hope, or a helping hand.

Stephen is the best-selling author of 26 books, including What Do They See When They See You Coming? He has also written countless articles for a variety of publications and has produced multiple audio books and video programs. He has appeared on PBS Television and XM Sirius Satellite Radio. He continues to hold one of the highest invite-back ratios in the speaking profession.