We’re quick to judge. And those judgments form a narrative that can prove very difficult to change. Those snap judgments rarely tell the whole story of what someone is capable of. Those judgments keep people stuck in a place that is comfortable for us, confining for them.
A thought experiment: think of someone – a colleague, team member, boss, sibling, neighbor – about whom you have a clear, strongly held and negative opinion. Consider how you came to hold that opinion. Consider what allows the opinion to persist. Separate fact from story, truth from fiction and see, if only for a moment, if there is something else that may be true.
I don’t suggest that every one deserves a second chance. But most people do, especially when our judgment of them is based more on perception than reality.
It takes courage to reassess our long-held perspectives. It takes courage to be vulnerable enough to admit that while there was a time and place where this belief made sense, it is no longer that time and it is no longer that place.
Most people, most of the time are worthy of our reconsideration. When we make room for surprise, it just might happen.
DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.