Who are we to judge others?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 3, 2002

Morning rituals rarely vary from person to person. At some point in the morning we all make our way to the bathroom mirror and eye the reflection for a minute or so. Some of us use the mirror to make sure our teeth are nice and clean. Some of us use the mirror to apply the right amount of makeup for the daily routine.

Few people go a day without using the mirror. We are always preparing for the "first impression." Some people place more attention on their appearance than others, but we all pay some mind to ourselves.

The same words have be spoken time and time again: "You only have one chance to make a first impression." It seems a bit ridiculous in my mind to subscribe to such a theory, but I will readily admit the truth of the statement.

Before we move any further, let me set something straight. I am not climbing atop a soap box to preach the differences in outer and inner beauty. I am not here to condemn the images of men and women in the media. I simply wish to discuss a few things concerning appearances, first impressions and judgment.

There are several reasons why the theory of the first impression has always baffled me. It is impossible to gather enough information about a person through one conversation. Some say,

"you can tell a lot about a person by (insert your favorite catch phrase)." You can tell very little about a person unless you spend a minimum of a year by their side.

First impressions can be misleading. You could catch a person on an especially bad or good day. If they seem a bit abrasive one day, does it mean they are always ill-tempered? I am sure everyone has had an especially bad day.

I am sure everyone has said words they wish could be taken back. Try to bring to mind that certain day or those few words. Is that the way you would like to be seen by your peers? Few would answer "yes" to a question of that caliber. Here is my theory of how perceptions should be tempered and judgments should made.

Think of all the relationships you have right now. Think of all the people who do not seem to judge you, but simply count you as their friend. Your friends may not seem to judge you now, but they have judged you in the past.

It is a pitiful truth that most people form opinions within the first few minutes of a conversation. I am guilty of forming opinions before the conversation begins. I try not to place so much judgment on appearance, but I fail to do so at times. Granted I never voice or act upon my opinions of others (unless their disposition warrants such an action) they still exist.

Allow me to get to the point of all these ramblings. Yes, there is a point. No one is ever as they seem. I know that statement is confusing to say the least. Bear with me and I will explain.

The people you know in the workplace live different lives at home. Everyone knows the co-worker who always has a smile on his or her face. Those people never seem to have a bad day, but it could not be further from the truth. I am in no way insinuating that these people are fake, but they have bad days just like the rest of us. They just choose to leave their indiscretions at home -- an admirable trait that not all possess.

It all boils down to one simple fact -- no matter how well you think you know someone, there is always something new to discover. New situations bring new attitudes.

In the end it is always best to keep your judgments and assumptions separate -- mixing the two could be disastrous.