Wednesday, June 8, 2011

(mis) judging people

When you look at someone (or at a situation) and decide whether he/she/it are good or bad (in basic terms), you are basing your decision on your own personal set of values.

These values have developed in you since childbirth and have been largely effected by your parents, your peers and your own self-developed beliefs. But the key point is that they are yours. Your own.

Sure, we share values like Thou shalt not kill (well, at least most of us do). But the day-to-day values, the ones that decide whether that guy is a 'schmuck' or not, are solely yours. And herein lies the problem.

You see the guy—who you just decided is a schmuck—is working on a whole different set of values: his own. My guess is that they are not identical to yours. So judging him (or her), in most cases, won't get you anywhere good.

Instead of being (mis-)judgmental, try being constructive and positive. Tell yourself a story that fits-in with your value-set, such as: the guy is probably having a really bad day—like I have some times—which is why he is acting that way.

The purpose of this exercise is getting you into a constructive mindset (regardless of the guy's behavior), because in this mindset you are calmer, your fighting instincts have subsided and you are open to opportunity.

In 9 times out of 10, you will find out that the guy isn't really a schmuck, he's just being misjudged.

In Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki talks about accepting others as a way to achieve likability. He sums it up in 4 points:
  • People are not binary
  • Everyone is better than you at something
  • People are more similar than they are different
  • People deserve a break
I think these points go a long way past likability, touching on the basics of human interaction: we all want to be loved, resected and appreciated; approaching people this way (with Guy's advice in mind) will open doors you never knew existed.

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