Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sometimes you just shouldn’t assume…

Ok, so I'm going to tell on myself because I have been reminded of a good lesson.
Yesterday I went to put Wythe down for his nap and he proceeded to cry non-stop like he always does. I will admit that I used to look for every possible reason that he might be crying but after months of him screaming throughout his hour-long naptime I have begun to expect the tears. Yesterday was no exception, he cried throughout the naptime and then once the naptime was over I went in to pick him up. As I picked him up a small, plastic, toy car fell out of the back of his overalls. I realized then that he had probably been lying on this toy and that this most likely contributed to his distress. Needless to say, I felt awful. But it was a good reminder to me to not assume that I know what is going on based on the actions of someone.

It is easy to assume that we know what is going on in another person’s life just by looking at their behavior. But so often we are only seeing the “tip of the iceberg”. It is easy to look at people and judge them based on the way they act or react to a situation but that is unfair since we don’t know what is going on in their life. It reminded me of a situation that I experienced several years ago while working at a retail store. I was called to the front of the store to speak to a woman who was demanding to speak to a manager. She was visibly upset that she couldn’t find a shirt in a particular size and seemed to feel that the store was personally sabotaging her shopping experience. After quite some time of working with her and eventually finding some clothing that met with her approval, I took her to a cash register to ring up her purchases. She continued to be disagreeable, complaining about every possible thing, how fast or slow I was ringing up the items, how I folded the clothes, how fast/slow her credit card was processed, how many other customers were in the store, the appearance of the store…etc, etc. Everything you could possibly imagine this woman had a complaint for. I was biting my tongue to not argue with her and point out how unreasonable she was being. But I was thinking to myself “wow, what an evil woman!” Fortunately I kept my thoughts to myself and instead said, “I’m sorry you are having a rough day.” Instantly she stopped and just stood still for a few seconds, then she started crying and said, “I am so sorry for the way I’ve been acting. My husband died suddenly a couple of days ago and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t have anything to wear to the funeral, it’s tomorrow morning and I was trying to find something to wear.”
 That was a lesson to me to not automatically assume that I know what is going on with another person. I tried to remember that in the future when I was dealing with difficult people. I would try to not get too upset with them and remind myself that they may be going through a difficult time in their life. I believe that at times I have given people much more credit than they deserve because the sad reality is that there are a lot of miserable, nasty people out there however, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be more understanding and less judgmental of others.
So today when I put my son down for a nap and he started screaming I first checked to make sure nothing was amiss before I kissed his check and left the room - lesson learned.

‘til next time…

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