When it comes to people you just can’t tell by looking. You can’t tell how smart they are, where they grew up, if they are kind or when they last went for a checkup. You can assume, in fact I was reading something the other day about how our brain filters items by processing them quickly.
I was sitting in the corner of a coffee shop the other day, watching people go by in a moment of considered quiet. By that, I mean slow contemplation with a side order of writer’s block. I was thinking. I was watching and thinking. Watching and assessing.
On and on it went. My snap processing of the people as I scanned a line out the door waiting for their caffeine hit. I saw what I saw of them in that moment, I know what I know about life and people and things. And so I knew. In that moment I knew them.
But I didn’t, did I? I might have lucked out occasionally. I might have guessed correctly for others. Like short is relative, right? Most people look short to me. I’m almost 5’11” so that’s not surprising. I didn’t know them any more than they know the girl in the corner with her laptop, messy hair, and glasses staring at them.
What is the point of these snap judgements, why do we do that?
It’s a brain thing, we see so much, smell, hear and touch so much, that there has to be a fast way to process that or we’d go nuts. Imagine the having to piece by piece process all that? It’s nuts. And, it’s also a safety thing. Those snap judgements tell us to get out of the way if we see someone or something that is a threat. Yay for that, I say. Yay for safety first.
But it’s important to question those snap decisions we make. A large intimidating man may be a doting father of girls who has a gentle touch, his very own ballerina tutu and the perfect arms for a hug. Or he might be an actual intimidating criminal type. You don’t know, is my point, until you know.
So, my friends, I have a challenge for you. Something to begin to shift the thoughts you are thinking and the judgements you are making by default about people. I mean, if you would like to, if for you, acting on auto-pilot is not enough because you want to get to know people, then this is for you.
Next time you hear yourself having a thought about someone, making a judgement, or filing them in whatever way you do, I want you to ask ‘says who?’. That simple question will open your mind to considering it further. Seeking more evidence or might even trigger a chance for a conversation. Simple. Effective. Pose the question to yourself. I’ve done this so often sometimes I find myself saying it out loud.
Thos two words are simple and effective. Just pose the question to yourself and see where it takes you. Question everything, my friends, that’s always been my motto. And now, I’ve done this so often sometimes I find myself saying it out loud.
Says you, says who.
And that makes your judgements YOUR problem.
Hands up, who accepts my challenge?