WHAT IF

It's probably always been this way. We, self included,
are so quick to peg someone and give them labels.  
Sometimes it's at first impressions 
at other times it is after frustration with the individual. 
They didn't do what we wanted and 
we were happy to plant a label on them.

How often has a person been labeled 'critical', when in fact he/she is very adept at being a problem solver! Their brain works in such a way that they immediately see what needs doing; they are practical and rather than being 'judgmental', they are perceptive and decisive. 
We probably get very defensive the minute they open their mouth. 
What if instead we listened and heard them out?

Our parents raised us to be punctual, which meant we were to be thoughtful of other people's time. I cannot count the times I have been labeled 'rigid' because I believe in being early or punctual rather than late. Oh, I know that circumstances beyond our control can make any one of us late, but cultivating it as a habit is another thing. I've been told that some people have the need to be late; 
this affirms to themselves their importance
by making everyone wait upon them. 
Meetings should always start on time - even if folks will be late.
What if some of us learned patience?
What if others of us learned to be punctual?

The friends that I think are totally fun-loving, outgoing and free-spirited, others have labeled as silly, loud and irresponsible. I love their spontaneity and energy, it rubs off on me, but others whisper that they are so goofy, immature and hyper! I still remember a young wife who hated when the rest of us laughed at the quick wit her husband displayed; she wanted him to grow up! She couldn't see the natural joy of life that the rest of us saw
and wanted him not to embarrass her. 
What if she was the one who needed to mature and chill a little?

So many other character traits come to mind. 
What if we found a more positive label?

What if someone you have labeled a manipulator 
is actually a skilled negotiator or go between?
What if the person is a friendly and great communicator,
but you think they talk too much?
What if you look down upon someone you see as a doormat, 
when in fact they are very thoughtful
and know how to be accommodating, 
yet they still get their own work done excellently and efficiently?
What if you don't like what you perceive to be
a people pleaser or mushy, 
when in fact they are sympathetic and compassionate?
What if to you he's a snob, so cool and aloof,
perhaps even boring, 
but I know that he is shy, calm, even-tempered,
private, philosophical and reserved?

I'm sure there must be those who impressed
you so highly at the outset and later, 
as their true character revealed itself, 
all you could feel for them was pity! 
But, are there times when your first labels were wrong or unfair, 
and you had to change your mind or even apologize, 
once you understood the other person better?  

Just something I've been mulling over lately...... 
What do you think?

17 comments:

pam said...

ABSOLUTELY!!!! I was just thinking about this. There are several people who have arrived at wrong judgements about me and it made me stop and wonder how many people I've mis-understood. Learning to extend grace....it is a life long journey.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

I am one who is guilty of putting a label one people,perhaps one they didn't deserve.I have learned in the last while,to not be so judgmental and just appreciate people for who they are.
You put it very well.

Glenda said...

I think you are so right . . . and I think I need to be more careful in this area. Critical attitudes lead to cynicism and bitterness, and I don't want that! Thanks for letting God use your extraordinary ability to express His truths.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great post, Karin, and it gives us all something to think about and ponder over.... I think we are all guilty of putting labels on people.

It's even harder with BLOG friends... We don't really know each other --other than through the words we use or read. Sometimes we may use 'labels' when thinking about our blog friends which are not true AT ALL...

I have an interesting blog coming up on Friday --talking about the WORDS we use while blogging.

About being punctual, when I was in churchwork for many years, I ALWAYS started my meetings on time.. People learned quickly to get there on time. I despise to go to meetings and wait for others to get there, and wait for the meeting to begin...

Hugs,
Betsy

Ginny said...

Yes, yes, yes!!!!! This is a wonderful post!! You are so right, some of us are so quick to jump to conclusions about a person. I know of someone who is perceived as rather stuck-up and a prima dona, but actually she is beyond shy and frightened of some people.

Valerie said...

Ever since I was a cashier in the grocery store and a really nasty customer came thru my line - when we were all done - I smiled (I guess I may have been a bit sarcastic) and said, "hope your day gets better" They looked at me and said "I hope so too, my wife just died"

Talk about being put in your place. You don't know what has happened in someone's life to cause them to act they war they are -

I like they way you put a positive spin on all those different characteristics. Sometimes we just are in a little hole - so worried about ourselves - it is easier to judge folks than to take the time and figure out exactly why they are the way they are.
Well written Karin.
Thank you!

C. JoyBell C. said...

Generally speaking, its harder for the younger generation to be punctual. :) There are so many things grabbing for our attention: androids, i-pads, facebook, phone calls, im's, sms's, etc. .. :)

Marlene said...

Wow deep thoughts today-well said. I think we need to especially be careful on our blogs and other communication netwworks like facebook. It is much easier to criticize when you are writing; but the fallout is worse because it is in writing and can be copied, reread and forwarded.
I love a person with a sense of humor-it is one of characteristics I gravitate to in my relationships with others.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

You raise many good points...and have me thinking. Yes, I am often guilty of labeling...before I know. And I am the impatient one...when the same people came late every time...for family dinners. Do we eat or wait...and how long do we wait?

Nezzy said...

Amen girlfriend. I can generally size someone up pretty quickly but I'd be the first to tell ya...I've been wrong so many time jumpin' to those first conclusions. Things aren't always as they seem.

Thanks for makin' us stop and think next time we size someone up.

God bless and have yourself a marvelous day!!! :o)

Karabeth Bapt. Homeschool said...

I agree. It was painful to be labelled as a child and it isn't really any easier as an adult.

I once heard that we are three people:

1. How we see ourselves;
2. How other people see us;
3. How we THINK other people see us.

None of these might be the same. And none of them at all might be how God Himself sees us!

Wendy said...

Oh that being punctual one really hits home with me. I think we were raised the same. Over the years, I have tried to be a little more flexible - it makes things easier all around.

I like your thoughts today - seeing the other side of what we label as "negative" traits in people.

And yes, I sometimes label people, but later on really get to know them and like them.
Great post.

Douglas Dahl said...

Thanks for the post. Yes, people really can suprise you sometimes and often their seemly negative traits can really be positive and enduringly useful over time.

Ron T. O. Geezer said...

What do I think? I think you made some very good points. God tells us not to judge on the outward appearance and only He can see the motives of an individuals heart.

Marg said...

Those are such worthwhile things to mull over...You brought many people to my mind as you wrote...and how I have perceived my own perceptions about them. Thanks for turning it around. Last week our pastor talked about the speck and log in your own eye...I need to hear that and be reminded of it constantly.

George said...

Thanks for a very thoughtful post. I think entirely too often we make snap judgments (first impressions) about people and then never change our impressions. Also, we too often look for the negative in people rather than the positive.

Linda said...

Karen this was some good food for thought. Thanks so much for challenging us to think this way.

Things are not always as they seem...and neither are people.

Love you,
Linda