I recently ran across a Yelp review from back when I managed a particular restaurant location.
The review was scathing. And I agreed with pretty much all of it. What rubbed me the wrong way was that the critic ended with: “Let’s all boycott this location until they get a manager in there who actually cares!”
Well that bites.
The lady looked around the restaurant and saw bad teamwork and bad customer service, and that’s not hard to identify. But its not fair to draw the conclusion that the current manager must not care.
I had been at the store for only a little while, and had already turned over half the original crew and most of the original management staff. The store was completely diseased when I arrived, and even though I cared immensely from day one, it was going to be a long, hard journey to get the store back into shape.
Her assessment that the manager just didn’t care couldn’t be further from the truth. I worked long hours I never should have worked and put up with frustrations you should never have to experience in the workplace–dealing with managers stealing from our safe, stopping a lot of intense verbal abuse, opening the store with about 25% of the required manpower on many occasions, receiving personal threats. I was trying hard.
I cared a lot. And it didn’t feel good to hear someone publicly say I didn’t care.
But reading the review made me realize something: I am just as quick to judge as my Yelp critic.
Be honest: Aren’t you?
When I go anywhere and see a mess, see bad attitudes, see mistakes happening, I am very quick to jump to conclusions: “This company sucks.” “They need a new manager.”
But I forget, like so many other customers and critics, that I only see the tip of the iceberg. I don’t know the whole story.
The same set of symptoms could be diagnosed in extremely different ways:
A) This manager is stupid and terrible, doesn’t care, and needs to be fired!
B) This manager is working really hard to clean up a mess (probably inherited), and needs all the support and encouragement I can give.
Remember: You only see the tip of the iceberg. You don’t see the massive reality beneath the surface.
So be careful about judging.
We can’t help jumping to conclusions, because we’ll never have all the information.
But which voice is going to come to you more naturally? Criticism and condemnation? Or support and encouragement?
Before you judge, look under the surface. Ask questions. Try to understand the real situation. And until you’ve looked thoroughly, be careful not to discourage someone who might be trying a lot harder than you think.
Can you imagine if your boss stopped jumping to conclusions about your work? If your co-workers stopped jumping to conclusions about your intentions? If your employees stopped jumping to conclusions about your character? If your customers stopped jumping to conclusions about your attitude? If friends would stop jumping to conclusions about your motives? If strangers would stop jumping to conclusions about your beliefs or your parenting or your social status or your personality? If your family stopped jumping to conclusions about what you do and say and who you really are?
Wouldn’t you love that?
Then stop judging others by the little tip of the iceberg you can see. There’s probably quite a story you don’t know beneath the surface.