You Don’t Know Everyone’s Story

Mother Teresa was a much beloved person in our nation’s history. One might believe it is because she spent her whole life in service of others and I cannot disagree. But I also think a big reason is because she was never judgmental.  She demonstrated the purest of love to all she encountered. Quite frankly if you read the bible, you know that Jesus was exactly the same way – sharing time and love with the critically ill and the tax collectors as much as he did his disciples.

So why, as a society, have we become so judgmental? Admittedly, we all make snap judgments on someone – including first impressions. As an example, let’s reflect on your work environment today. Do you know what has transpired with every individual employed there overnight?

Someone may have just found out a loved one has cancer. Someone potentially went home to an abusive spouse. Someone may have sat in the dark because their lights were shut off. Another maybe received a marriage proposal. Yet another just found out they were having a baby. Ok, so maybe they came into work in a bad or giddy mood. Did you even ask why or if you could help without assumptions?

Being in the business of helping company’s find talented workers, it never ceases to amaze me the number of “disgruntled worker” stories I have heard over the years. I sincerely understand that sometimes things just don’t work out…but have you ever stopped and considered that there may be more to everyone’s story – including the boss?

I hear a lot about bosses that are really tough. So let me share of those “tough” bosses, a few stories I know to be true.

  • One of those “tough” bosses had an all employees meeting scheduled because they had heard rumblings that some of the sales people felt the compensation plan to be unfair. This person walked into that meeting right after finding out they had three months to live. No one was the wiser.

 

  • One “boss” was confronted by her teammates because they felt her loving relationship with another co-worker was inappropriate. They told her she should resign – but no one said a word to him. She held her ground and is CEO today and the two lived happily ever after.

 

  • One gentleman who is a widely respected leader had his company almost file bankruptcy twice. Worst part is one instance was because a long-term, highly regarded leader embezzled millions. He trusted him completely. Unfortunately if the company wouldn’t have pulled through he would have been tagged the bad leader thru other’s judgment.

 

  • I frequently hear about micromanagement from employees.. Are you in the room when the owners set expectations on shareholder or membership value? How about the small privately owned operators? Do you know that every minute of every day they worry about making a living for their family and feel responsible for the employees who work for them and their families? Do you have any idea the stress and burden they can feel during a tough economy? Accountability and high expectations create outstanding performance. It’s their job to make sure this happens for their customers.

I never like to write about an issue without offering up a solution, but this is a tough one. It really is a personal journey and a commitment to change. I will say this – reserving judgment is not about always agreeing in what someone believes in or does. You don’t have to compromise your convictions to be compassionate. This is more about accepting people where they are.

Everyone has a story. Good or bad, everyone has one. I have made a commitment to frequently ask people their stories – not to be nosy, but to understand where they really are coming from. Sometimes it can change the entire relationship with that individual just by asking.

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