Making snap judgments and quick reactions seem to happen more often than I realized. Our society works at a fast pace, and it continues to speed up. I know I am getting older, but it is still speeding up no matter what age.
It should come as no surprise to me that we are working faster with the advancements we have made with technology. However, our human bodies and minds are not going to change. Our processing speeds and reaction times will remain the same on the trajectory of our life spans.
When we make a snap judgment, we are evaluating something or someone. We look at an individual and determine many things quickly. Our snap judgments tell us if they are trustworthy or not, safe or dangerous, friendly or mean, and can you think of more?
Growing up, we accumulated many experiences which provided us with a basis to influence us in how we view the world. Can we change our minds? Our environments and experiences affect us a great deal, I believe. What do we consider our environment? Our home life, education, community, media, church, and society in general. So as we move through our life journey, our environments change as our relationships change.
Have you made a snap judgment or decision? Can you remember being told this advice: “You want to make a good first impression at your interview.” What did or does that mean to you?
During the past decades of work in the educational world, I can tell you what I advised students what this meant by talking, modeling, and listening.
Every day I wore a suit to work, dress pants, a blouse, blazer, and heels. Sometimes I had flats depending on the suit pants length. (Yes, I could run in those heels if I needed to do so.) I dressed for success and modeled for others what I expected. I respected them and the work I did.
Next, I did every job. There was not something I would not do or ask my staff to do something I was not willing to do. I was visible to everyone picking up trash, serving lunch, riding the bus, covering a classroom, coaching a game, and the list goes on. We are all part of a team working together to serve.
Communication was vital as I spoke to everyone and by name. Saying thank you, excuse me, you are welcome and modeling the character we want to see and hear. Repeating my famous phrase of “You can be part of the problem or part of the solution; the choice is yours to make.” Maintaining a positive communication environment helps to keep the environment positive.
The best lesson came when I was able to go to school with most of my teeth missing, black eyes, and around 50 stitches. “Does the way I look now change who I am?” Students could see my willingness to stand before them, looking like a different person, a pretty scary look. A great lesson is to not judge a person by the way they look but to take the time to get to know who they are first. Standing in front of middle school students takes courage in the first place; try doing it with a name like Yoho and with most of your teeth missing. It’s okay if you just laughed out loud. It happens.
It is my hope as you start back to school, back to work face to face or if you have started a new position, take some time to learn about the place you are and the people you are with before you make a snap judgment. Think about these things as you start to compare or judge:
- Accountability more than Ability
- Character more than Color
- Brains more than Beauty
- Quality more than Quantity
- Effectiveness more than Effortlessly
- Humble more than High Achiever
The list can be expanded to include more things to consider. The critical thing to remember is to pause and not to use snap judgments. You could miss out on important people and things by not waiting.
My concern after working so hard with students on the importance of not placing judgments, including all individuals, and being kind to all, we are taking steps backward at a faster pace. The conversations being held about possible curriculums seem to place students in positions to judge others, just as our society is doing this daily. As I have stated, our environments influence our thoughts, actions, and behaviors. Take a pause and reflect on what is currently happening by exploring all aspects of the places I indicated influence us: homelife, education, church, community, media, and society in general. A solution-focused mindset allows for positive ideas to guide changes, where a problem-focused agenda fills the minds with negativity and not allowing solutions to move forward.
Leaders are essential in leading this fast pace environment. Thank you for being the solution daily.