Last week I was running around town making local connections. I truly love doing that.
I like to frequent local Ma & Pa shops and give them business.
Business from me personally and business from our credit union.
Shopping and eating local is so important for our communities.
With that said, one of my last stops was at a local downtown restaurant.
They are specific to Grand Forks North Dakota and have amazing food.
It was slow in there for lunch time.
Just one other table of 6 men mid-day drinking and tossing around cheers for each other for random accomplishments.
The hostess sat me at the table beside them.
I busily played on my phone because that’s what you do when you are facing a table of people that you are not with.
“My wife will ONLY shop in New York”, one of the gentlemen said.
“Mine prefers Beverly Hills”, said another.
My mind went straight to the arrogance file in my brain.
I was writing all of their names (that I made up) on that file and was full preparing to lock them away.
At one point I heard one of the guys say, “If you can’t drive a caddy, why even have a car?”
I rolled my eyes so hard that I nearly blacked out from the force.
I popped in my earbuds and erased their mind-numbing conversation as best as I could.
My food arrived and I happily ate as I watched my favorite Netflix series.
I glanced up every so often and noted new drinks and new clinks of glasses.
New celebrations and random fits of laughter.
If this were America’s Got Talent, I would have hit the buzzer so many times wires would have popped out and springs would have peppered the crowd.
Yes, I was judging.
Oh, I was judging hard.
I neared the end of my meal and popped my earbuds out.
They were still going. Still clinking. Still talking about how amazing they were.
I could feel my eyes narrow in annoyance.
I caught one of their glances and half smiled before looking down at my purse to rummage for my debit card.
The guys started to move from their booth and one by one filed out of the restaurant.
I was sitting by the front window and watched each of them walk to construction trucks.
Definitely not Cadillacs.
The waitress came to my table and I handed her my card.
She put her hand up and said, “ Oh, it’s paid for”.
“What?”, I asked.
“Those guys that just left paid for your lunch.”
I chewed on the side of my lip for a minute realizing that in my mind I had been a complete Judgy McJudgerton.
I had created them as evil narcissists in my mind.
“One just became a dad and one was just married. They were celebrating that and the fact that they were going to be even more broke.”, she continued.
It didn’t make sense.
In fact, I think she saw a spring break in my mind because she said, “They were pretending they were loaded for a day before the kid and wife take the money.”
It was a joke.
They were playing a role and enjoying their storyline.
I judged them for it and man did I ever feel bad.
In my defense it was really believable.
This got me thinking of how often we judge people in the workplace.
Not only those that work with us but members as well.
How often do we take a glance at a fee that has been accessed as they complain in our ear and think, YOU did this.
How often are we blaming them in our minds as they give us a long song and dance about what went wrong.
What if the song and dance are true?
Shouldn’t we be more careful with our words AND our thoughts?
Those guys painted a believable storyline.
They were all in.
I fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
I did not get a chance to thank them for my lunch and slightly redeem myself for the judgy thoughts.
In the daily grind, we have the ability to reign ourselves in a bit.
Exercise the empathy tab in our minds and remember that no matter what the storyline is, it is what they are choosing to write.
Showing respect for that isn’t all that hard.
The hardest part is deciding to do it and following through.
What would have happened if I had clinked one of their glasses or made a comment about their conversation?
Would they have shared with me their nervousness about the newness in their lives?
Would they have included me as the token female to assure them it would be alright?
I’ll never know, but I do know the whole situation taught me a lesson.
I don’t have the right to judge.
More often than not you are doing it without even realizing it.
At work, at home, in friendships and relationships.
When someone is telling you their storyline, how hard is it to just let them?
Let them say what they want to say.
Let them paint the photo they want to paint.
Let them be.
It’s not up to us as employees, coworkers, friends, or anything else to determine the why.
It’s up to us to deliver the how.
How are WE going to react.
How are WE going to be a part of the storyline.
How are WE going to determine our role.
How are WE going to be a vital part of the outcome.
As this Judgy McJudgerton grabbed her keys from the depths of her purse, I turned to the waitress and said, “Well, time for me to drive off in my Caddy.”
We both had a little chuckle as she watched me get into my Kia and drive off.