We have all heard the expression never judge a book by its cover and yet we do. Humans are imperfect creatures that all have the same two faults. We are curious and judgmental. If you don’t believe we are curious, drive down the interstate near an accident scene on the other side and tell me why the opposite side is backed up? People are curious to see what happened. It is in our DNA. The same is true with judging people. Psychologists estimate we make up our mind about a new acquaintance within less than 30 seconds. The person’s appearance, body language, voice quality and greeting are all filtered within seconds and we assign an emotion to meeting this person. In order not to judge a new person we must really focus past our initial emotions, which by the way are usually right, but not always.
Every person has a story, but most of us don’t take the time to learn their story. This can be a major mistake. We should take the time to hear another person’s story and never judge a book by its cover. Take this story for example.
An elderly couple having car trouble and blocking traffic was met with a very rude and impatient young man. He began to swear at the couple and when finally making his way around them screamed at the old man that “he shouldn’t be allowed to drive”. An ex-Marine witnessed this exchange and approached the elderly couple. The old man was comforting his upset wife about what they had encountered from the rude young man. The Marine asked if he could help. The old man nodded gratefully. The Marine had two friends that were mechanics only a few miles away. They told their friend that they were on their way to help.
The old man looked at the young Marine and noticed his Marine ring. The old man asked “are you a Marine?” He replied “yes sir” and the old man replied “he was as well”. He had served in the First Marine Division during World War II. The young Marine knew this division fought in two of the bloodiest wars in their history at the Battle of Peleliu and Iwo Jima. The two mechanics arrived and began repairing the car while listening to the old man’s story. They learned not only of his service and his bravery but that he was a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.
Soon the two mechanics were finished and had the car running again. The old man pulled out his wallet to pay them for their service. One of the mechanics explained they were Marine Reservist and would not accept payment, but were honored to help a fellow Marine.
The only loser in this story was the rude impatient young man who had the opportunity to meet a real war hero, but failed to ask the old man’s story. Slow down and take the time to hear a new person’s story. You never know who you may be meeting and never judge a book by its cover again.
“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”— Wayne Dyer
Image by dan at www.freedigitalphotos.net
Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, grandfather of 1, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, employee benefit specialist, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger, author and team leader with over 29 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.