Guest post by Tony Moore, Eckerd Kids’ Chief of Organizational Development
I have to admit, I am very fond of the phrase “never judge a book by its cover.” As someone who has experienced unfair treatment based on my race, I like to think that I take great care in not judging people too quickly. I have to admit however, I am not always successful and far too frequently make decisions with limited information.
About a week ago, I was going into a Starbucks and there was a lady walking behind me. I opened the door for her (something that would have made my mother proud) and she walked right pass me…no eye contact, no nod of appreciation, no thank you sir. To be honest, I wasn’t holding the door so that I could get a pat on the back; however I was a little taken aback by her lack of response. I remember standing behind her in line and thinking what a rude person she must be. I wondered if she was one of these people who had a sense of entitlement, so she expected people to hold doors open for her. At any rate, I put it out of my mind, got my cup of coffee and sat down to read my book.
As I was reading, I could not help but overhear the conversation that was going on behind me. There were two ladies talking and one was obviously upset. I heard her as she went on to talk about the deep personal struggle she was having and this sense that the world was caving in around her. I heard her friend offer wise counsel and at some point start to pray for her.
As I got up to leave, I looked over my shoulder and realized that the lady who was struggling was the same lady who entered Starbucks with me. This lady who I had so quickly judged was fighting a battle that I knew nothing about! Needless to say, the guilt hit me like a ton of bricks!
At Eckerd Kids, we define Empathy as “seeing the world through another person’s eyes.” Our willingness to suspend judgment is critical to our ability to see the world as they see it. For me this was a lesson learned the hard way.