Hereâ€™s the bottom line.
You just donâ€™t know.
You just donâ€™t know whatâ€™s going on in another personâ€™s life.
You just donâ€™t know the entire situation and the circumstances that are involved.
You just donâ€™t know whatâ€™s going on in another personâ€™s head.
As humans, when we meet one another, we instinctively gather as much information as we can from our interaction and based on that information, which is akin the size of a small puzzle piece, we try to construct the entire jigsaw puzzle of that person using only that small puzzle piece. You canâ€™t. You just canâ€™t do that.
For example, you meet someone for the first time and he seems a bit rude, a bit standoffish, not very graceful in terms of social manners, and appears a bit angry. We take that information and paint that person as just that in everyday life, when in reality, he couldâ€™ve just been having a bad day. A deal mightâ€™ve not gone through at work, maybe he didnâ€™t get the raise he wanted, or maybe he just had a bad fight with his wife.
You donâ€™t know.
You just donâ€™t know.
Yet, we do have a natural tendency to try to make sense of things of the information we have and like that example pointed out, the problem is that the information we have is too small. Itâ€™s not enough. Itâ€™s like a grain of sand compared to a beach.
Obviously, the more time you spend with another person, the more pieces you can gather to construct a better overall picture, but this article is mainly geared toward those who we’re not that close to yet, acquaintances, new friends, co-workers, etc.
I knew one person who many people judged to be as very â€śarrogantâ€ť. He rarely talked in social situations and tended to keep quiet in group conversations and stayed away from people in general. Many people thought he was too â€ścoolâ€ť to talk with them, that he thought he was above or better than them in some way. I was curious about him so I befriended him and we had a candid talk and I was surprised at what I found. He was not the least bit arrogant at all. On the contrary, he was quite humble.
And as we talked, I realized what this was all about. He was a classic introvert. He enjoyed spending time alone. He didnâ€™t really particularly care for small talk. He liked conversation, but only when it involved deep, stimulating talk. He felt drained at parties and with talking with people so he needed to recharge by being alone with his thoughts. He had absolutely no clue that other people perceived him to be arrogant. He was just doing what was comfortable for him.
Going a bit off tangent here, I think thereâ€™s a big misconception when the word introvert is used in mainstream society. An introvert is usually correlated with someone who is extremely shy, has low self confidence, low self esteem, or maybe even someone who is antisocial but that is simply not true at all.
Introverts mainly draw energy by being by themselves. They feel at peace when they are alone. Extroverts mainly draw energy from being around other people and feel in their element, so to speak, with others.
Itâ€™s just a different preference of orientation when it comes to getting energy, one comes from within, the other without.
An introvert can give a great, inspiring, riveting speech to tens of thousands of people, but when talking with a small group of people, he can feel drained and want to drift away in his own thoughts.
Again, itâ€™s mainly a preference, nothing more.
There is a difference between a true introvert and a person who is shy and wants to socialize. The introvert feels comfortable in his own skin and doesnâ€™t have the desire to socialize as much as the next person, while the shy person who wants to socialize may suffer from social anxiety, low self esteem, low self confidence, etc.
Going back to that introverted person, itâ€™s easy to see how people can judge him by his behavior and label him as arrogant.
Now, it may seem like little harm is done when one person mistakenly judges him as arrogant, but the real trouble starts when that one person starts to â€śpaintâ€ť him as arrogant to others, so when other people meet him for the first time, his behavior is automatically filtered to justify this â€śpainting of arroganceâ€ť that they were led to believe and lo and behold, the â€śpaintingâ€ť becomes justified.
Within very close social circles, peopleâ€™s reputation can become greatly harmed through this type of quick judgment coupled with gossip.
To be perfectly honest, Iâ€™ve heard the admonition of donâ€™t be quick to judge as well, but only in my head. It wasnâ€™t drilled into my heart. Iâ€™ll admit that I did judge a person based on first impressions in the past and I donâ€™t think Iâ€™m alone in that. We canâ€™t help it. We do it automatically.
I remember the first time the thought of not judging someone based on first impressions really hit me was way back in freshman year of college.
It was a new school, with new students, and the first day of class, I made some acquaintances, and â€śsized upâ€ť the students in the classroom and automatically built profiles in my head based on observations and some casual interaction that were later to be completely shattered by the end of the quarter.
As if someone gathered all the nuclear bombs in the world and set them off in front of the mental profiles that I had constructed in my mind in the beginning of the quarter. I was so embarrassed at how completely wrong I was that I didnâ€™t trust my own judgment from first impressions from that moment on down to this very day.
Iâ€™d like to give some examples, but to be honest, Iâ€™m a bit embarrassed to put it out there.
And I know this seems like common knowledge to a lot of people and Iâ€™m sure it is.
But itâ€™s probably common knowledge in their head. Not in their heart.
There is a huge difference between the two.
Take for example, a person who has heard all his life not to drink and drive. Yet, he goes to the bar and downs a few drinks and chooses to drive home and on the way home, he nearly crashes his car in the center divider.
That experience can really drill what we have inside our heads into our hearts and itâ€™s from that experience that we really â€śget itâ€ť. We understand and we never forget from that point on. And thatâ€™s important. Itâ€™s not enough to know in your head. You have to know it in your heart.
Passing quick judgment is a very dangerous habit because once weâ€™ve judged someone, all our thoughts, actions, behaviors become dictated by the judgment we have of that other person and we literally create a filter for that specific person and thatâ€™s just not fair. It really isnâ€™t.
Remember the introverted person I was talking about? Guess how many people would start a conversation with him to get to really know him? Very little. Very little. Why?
Because theyâ€™ve already passed judgment on him as arrogant. Their behavior was filtered through that so they donâ€™t take the time to get to really know him and thatâ€™s a shame. You end up treating someone a certain way based on a picture that can be, and is usually (at least in the beginning) completely wrong. Completely wrong. And should you spread your judgment to others, it only compounds the situation even worse.
So keep an open mind. You donâ€™t know the whole story. You just donâ€™t know. But you can, if you just keep an open mind and take the initiative to find out.