26 April 2015
“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
It’s an old adage, but the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” is arguably one of the most important pieces of advice you can carry with you. Whether you’re in the boardroom or the bar, the people you meet could potentially change your life, so it’s important to be mindful of any assumptions you might be making about them.
There’s a reason I started this blog post with the above quote, as I think it’s a useful reminder of how your internal judgements can cloud the reality of what a person is actually like. It’s about the shadow you cast when interacting with others, and the reason this is important is because it has the power to change the mood and behaviour of the people you’re interacting with.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you feel the other person has judged you prematurely? If you have, it’s possible that you might then have found yourself struggling to articulate who you really are against the weight of their assumptions.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m perfect, as I am nowhere near finished on my journey of learning about people and what makes them tick. We’re all guilty of making snap judgements about people based on how we view them, but I’m willing to bet most of us could find an example of a time in our lives when we were wrong. Or even better, a time when taking a gamble on someone based on a vision of what they could be, has paid off!
I remember taking on a group of kids straight out of school, back when UKFast sold mobile phones. It was some kind of government scheme and the lady who brought them in looked more than a little concerned. On the outside, these kids were scruffy and seemed wary of the more suited up members of the team. Yet, as the months passed, we got to know these kids, spending time with them outside of the workplace playing football and having some fun. Put simply, their potential started to shine through.
All successful people, no matter how they look on the outside, have an internal drive. It is not always visible on the outside and can be a quiet burning fire inside an individual that you don’t see until you stimulate them. Because of this, these types of people are missed during a recruitment drive. But these are people you want on the team. Coaxing the best out of people when you see a spark of potential is a great challenge and it’s one I personally enjoy.
Some of the best people who work at UKFast were just kids when we took them on, but they have shown loyalty, passion and drive that you might not see in the hoody or scruffy jeans someone is wearing.
Lately, I’ve been thinking: perhaps we need to start treating each new person we meet as a blank page, letting their actions and words fill it in rather than our own judgements. How many more friendships and experiences would we welcome into our lives with this simple change in approach?