Don’t be so quick to hang up

Sometimes we judge people too quickly and risk missing out on great relationships. We allow ourselves to be turned off by appearances, by language, or even by perceived lifestyle differences. As a result, we don’t get past the “book cover”, so to speak and our assumptions rob us of opportunities to include potentially valuable people into our lives.

Recently, I was on the wrong end of this when someone calling into my office quickly hung up on me simply because of how I greeted him. My greeting wasn’t rude or off-putting, from my perspective. But it was, however, an overly-lighthearted, “Good afternoon . . .” followed by a slightly awkward laugh and then a correct statement saying, “. . . I mean, good morning.”

The next thing I heard was the dial tone of denial. Ouch!

Now that’s my interpretation of what happened. I know that it’s entirely possible that the person on the other end of the line had to run because of some emergency. But the evidence suggested that he prematurely decided that conversation was over, after hearing my greeting.

The worst part of this happening is that I have no way of identifying my mysterious caller. I don’t know who he was, and I have no record of which number he called from. I’m just left wondering why he gave up so quickly.

Unfortunately, we all do this too often. We look at someone’s appearance or listen to their conversation and assume that we’ve gathered enough information to pigeonhole them. They may even remind us of someone else we know, which causes us to pile on many more assumptions.

How do we so easily miss the uniqueness of each person and decide their value in a split second? Isn’t there something wrong with this?

I am convinced that if my incoming caller had let me converse with him on that day, that I would have been able to meet whatever need he was phoning me about. I work really hard for my clients and it’s too bad that he didn’t give me an opportunity to start a great business relationship.

Maybe he will call back again. Maybe not. I may never get an explanation. Perhaps I judged him too quickly.

But the event did leave me wondering how many times have I done this to others? Are there growth lessons that I’m missing out on because I’ve labeled someone before giving them a chance? Do I do this to even those closest to me? Do I tune out too quickly?

Perhaps I should pick up the phone now and give someone a call.

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