The only difference between a flower and a weed is judgement
– Wayne W. Dyer
Last week I was in the middle of interviewing a candidate and something he shared with me during the interview reminded me of the power of showing compassion for others and not judging people. He left such an impression on me I immediately felt compelled to share on the blog.
Now before I get into the conversation, I gotta tell you that I have been guilty of judging people for much of my life. I am human and we all do it. However, recently when I have had to deal with so many adversities in life, I have begun to check myself and change my approach to showing compassion. For example, when my divorce was finalized, I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I could have done better. Also, during that reflection, I discovered that I had judged others for not being able to keep their marriages together and here I was dealing with the pain of my marriage ending. That experience, showed me that you can’t really judge, and people have the right to live their lives the best way they can.
The most important thing I discovered about judging people is that my own issues were at the root of the judgement and I was just projecting my insecurities by judging others.
Now back to the reason I was compelled to write about this topic…
During the conversation I had with the candidate, I inquired about how he has dealt with a underperforming subordinate.
He told me a story about a time he had spent 3 weeks working with a junior person and the junior person was not getting his work done and seemed to be distracted. He had trouble completing his assignments on time and was completely withdrawn and was just not performing well.
He told me he decided to take the young man aside and ask him what was going on in his life because it was clear that he was distracted by something. The young man shared with him that he was having marital problems and financial issues.
The interview candidate blew me away when he told me he worked with his subordinate to identify a marriage counselor for his subordinate and his wife. And recommended a financial advisor to help his family with their finances.
He further told me that after a month’s time his subordinate’s performance improved. He followed up with the subordinate on the issues he was facing in his personal life and he proudly shared that the advice he implemented improved his relationship with his wife and his finances.
I was blown away by this story because it reminded me of two lessons in life. The first lesson is, not to judge people. I have been in many situations where an employee is underperforming and my colleagues immediately jump to the conclusion accusing the person of being incompetent. The second lesson I learned is when you show compassion for people you can have a positive impact on their life.
This took me back to the time when I was a young professional and had zero patience for people making mistakes. It also took me back to a time when my superiors had no patience for me making mistakes and it just made me feel worse. My candidate’s compassion for his fellow human not only benefited him, as he was able to get him to perform better, he also had a positive impact on his subordinate’s family which will go a long way.
I share this with you because sometimes we all need the reminder to not be so hard on people. Everyone is fighting battles that others know nothing about. The best you can do when you observe behavior that you don’t understand, is to ignore it. If you can’t ignore it, the next best thing you can do is to try to understand the behavior by asking questions rather than judging.
Also another behavior you can adopt when your tempted to judge is to put yourself in that person’s shoes and ask yourself if you were having a similar problem would you prefer help or to be judged. I am sure going through that process in your mind will bring your thoughts back into perspective rather quickly.
I challenge you to challenge yourself to check yourself when you feel tempted to pass judgement. We are all fighting personal battles and would rather have relief from our battle than to feel worse about it.