Have you ever had someone pre-judge you? You know the routine. Before you’ve exchanged ten words with one another you realize that the person you are just meeting has you all figured out. You meet a co-worker for the first time and she decides that you are worthy only of her criticisms for your style of clothing, your hair, your work habits. She decides, and verbally conveys, that you are lacking in class because you ride the bus to work or speak with an accent. Putting on my big-girl panties, I will refrain from evaluating the source of these cutting criticisms. Why? Because, drat it, I have done it myself.
Think about it. You meet someone who is intelligent and has charisma, and he reminds you of the last creep in your life who was handsome, intelligent and had enough freaking charisma to fill an auditorium. You never intended to develop a prejudice, you just did. He looks like, acts like … that other guy. Why would this fella be any different, eh?
Both scenarios require humility that’s got some fish and vinegar in it.
When someone has aggressively criticized you, only you as the offended can really offer them a chance to change their thinking. Make it easy on them. “Hey, I’m just wondering if I’ve done something offensive. Your evaluations of me seem harsh. It seems like you are kind of distressed….”
However, when you’ve quietly held a prejudice in your heart toward someone, it’s a little more difficult. You have to release them from that judgment, and decide in your heart that Big Hank is not Smooth Stanley after all. You would do well to let Big Hank be Big Hank for a while, i.e., not conclude who he is or how he’ll be with you or anyone else.
The point is this. Prejudice really kills friendships. The little overtures of kindness and the laughter that makes the days go by quickly … that’s all a little heap of ashes when we love our selves and our selfish opinions more than letting others be who they are. We suck all the air out of the room by trying to keep our little prejudices alive.
I’m preaching more to myself here, than anyone else, thank you very much. Love still covers a multitude of sins. Give it a whirl sometime.