When the story about the man being forcibly removed from a recent United flight emerged, people were shocked. It hit a little too close to home, didn’t it? How many of us have been waiting for a flight and have heard the airline ask for volunteers? I bet you’ve even said something like, “If they offer $1000, I’ll take it an use for my cousin’s wedding later this year. First class!” We’ve all been there.
Think back to when you first heard about this event. It was probably before all the details, explanations, and public statements came about. When it was just a soundbite, whom did you think was to blame?
You made a snap judgement. Maybe you didn’t write off ever flying United again, or you thought that perhaps there was something “wrong” with the unnamed customer. Either way, you thought something. I know I did.
We make judgements all the time. Humans categorize things as a way to make sense of what we experience.
However, few of us check ourselves and consider alternate conclusions. Too often we walk around with our first reaction. I often think about that when I do something unintentional to another person. Recently, I cut someone off in traffic (it was an accident; I promise!). I know if I was cut off, I’d think that person was a bad driver, probably giving them the “look” as I sped past them as soon as I could. For me, on that day, I had dropped something while trying to answer my phone, and I was distracted. Not a good excuse, but certainly, this one experience doesn’t qualify me as a bad driver or a bad human.
So how do we stop rushing to conclusions?
Check yourself (before you wreck yourself). First and foremost, acknowledge the judgement.
Understand why you made the judgement in the first place. For me, my first thought was that the guy maybe did or said something wrong. Why did I think that? A few weeks ago, I witnessed a man become quickly angry at a flight attendant so much so that the flight attendant kindly asked him to treat him with the same level of respect he was receiving. It could have escalated from there, but the flight attendant managed the situation really well. Once you know why you made the snap judgement, you can uncategorize the experience.
There’s always more than the headline. I’ve learned that it’s important to get the rest of the story. I wasn’t on the plane, but there are plenty of news outlets, who interviewed eye witnesses, that learned more about United’s policies and what made this experience “unique.” As the story continues to unfold, there is alot more to this story than the first headline.
Remember how it feels. Think back to when you’ve been misjudged. How did it feel? I assume not so good. When you realize that the person you’re judging is also a human, you might let up. Maybe you just caught the person on a bad day.
Stop judging yourself. Chances are you judge yourself just as much as you may judge others. See “Remember how it feels” and just stop.