Judging Someone From a Glance
I try not to judge anyone and I don’t like when people judge me. Recently, while in my weekly meeting with my department manager, she mentioned that I appeared stressed. I asked why she thought so and she replied, “When I walked past your desk, you looked stressed.” So let me understand. My boss walks past my desk and makes a judgement call that I “looked stressed.” Now my office has glass windows on two sides. They are approximately four feet wide, so to walk past and look in would take about 5 seconds (if you walk slow) or about 2 seconds (if you walk fast). And from that quick glance at me, she judged me and found me stressed. I immediately wanted to ask if she judged me every time she walked past and if she went around telling others that I was stressed. Or if I had the right to judge her every time I walked past her office.
I admit I was rather stressed at being told I look stressed. I began to wonder, did I look frustrated after being on hold with an insurance company for over twenty minutes and listening to the same message over and over and over again until I could repeat it word for word? Did I look happy when a patient told me something nice and it brightened my day? Or when I told something nice to a patient and they smiled? And what exactly does a frustrated face or a stressed face look like? I found myself worrying about what my face looked like throughout the day.
I just don’t understand the need for anyone, be it a boss, coworker or friend to feel the need to judge someone negatively based on a 5 second glance. As I walked back to my office, I couldn’t help looking at my coworkers. I felt like telling them to make sure they keep their happy face on or they might be judged. I think the reason that it bothers me so much is that I don’t like being judged. I mean no one does, but when you’re at work, no one should feel the need to make assumptions about someone based upon a tiny moment in time.
But I know everyone does it. I saw my husband for the first time and thought, “Wow, he looks handsome.” It made me want to learn more about him. I didn’t think, “Wow, he’s obviously military, he might be dangerous.” We see a stranger on the street or in traffic next to us and we pass judgments. If they are laughing, they are happy or if they are crying, they are sad. I think it is different because they are strangers and we don’t approach them. We don’t know them and what we think, in those few seconds, won’t have any impact on their lives because they won’t know they were being judged. At work, it is different. Someone’s judgement, if passed around the office, can cause real problems.
I guess my question is, why is it the negative impression that gets passed on? We just received a Quality of Life survey at work and one of the questions was if our boss/manager praises you for a job well done. My response was obviously not since they are too focused on judging people negatively. Of course that wasn’t one of the answers I could check off. There are a lot of positives that someone can tell you and that should be the focus.
So the next time someone tells me I look, fill in the blank, my reply will be, “I don’t understand why people feel the need to judge someone based on a few seconds in passing. I really hope you don’t do that. Can you imagine how someone might be judging you?”
Maybe that will make them stop and think…and hopefully say something positive.