Judging By What They Say (About You) | Be F-ing Awesome Today google4228e52aa5dfebc8.html

Judging By What They Say (About You)


A friend of mine, accompanied by a friend of hers,  came by to drop off a book she’d borrowed. I gave the woman the “nickel tour” of my home and offered them both something to drink. We chatted for a while, general conversation, nothing heavy or deep, and then I walked them to the car. Later my friend commented that her friend was surprised that I’d been so nice and open to letting her in my home, after what she’d heard about me.

Here’s the thing: The visitor had never met me. She relied on hearsay from someone who apparently wasn’t a big fan of mine. The inference was made and conclusion drawn before she’d had a chance to form her own opinion. Maybe she expected to see horns creep out from my hair or fire shoot from my eye sockets. I don’t know.

Another friend and I went back and forth over places to grab lunch. I mentioned a new restaurant in town I hadn’t tried yet. She squashed it immediately. I’m paraphrasing here but her reasoning went something like this: “The food was so-so. The fries came out cold. I could make a better burger at home; it was overcooked, but the seeded bun was good, from a local bakery.”

When I asked when she’d had this horrible restaurant experience (and this is a direct quote) her answer was : “Never.”

My lunch friend recanted someone else’s restaurant experience and passed it to me as her own. For this I called her out, as friends can do and still remain friends. I felt bad for the restaurant. Boycotting a place because of an second or third-hand review could catch on like wildfire and ultimately destroy someone’s livelihood. I suggested we try it and judge its  merits by our experience. Which we did. And it turned out to be a good experience.

I’m sure that somewhere or sometime ago I rubbed a person the wrong way, intentionally or not. That made me fair game for someone to start the narrative and share it among willing listeners.

Whether we call these narratives rumors or innuendos or gripes doesn’t matter. Once the word is out, there’s no way to recant it. And chances are good, people will insist that what they heard is the gospel truth, when the correct answer probably strides somewhere in the middle.

Perhaps the chef prescribed to the USDA’s meat chart to judge a medium-well hamburger, and the customer received it perfectly, still, it wasn’t what s/he expected. Or the original source said “it was a bit over done for my liking” which turned into a slam bash heard around the town.

The person who believed what had been said about me, before ever having a two second conversation, in all probability shared those words in some form with another person who also doesn’t know me.

I remember just before entering a college classroom someone stopped me. “Oh no, you’re not taking World History with Chante are you?” And then he went on to give a scathing review of the professor. My opinion was formed before my bottom hit the seat; I would hate this class and hate the instructor. I’d already failed in my mind because someone said the teacher spoke in an unintelligible accent and assigned ridiculously tight deadlines.

For better or worse judgements and reviews work to influence our buying decisions and social affiliations. Then we take it one step further and repeat (embellish upon?) what we’ve heard before our personal experience becomes the yardstick by which we judge.

Conversely, when someone blows pretty blue smoke and rainbows up your backside, well…a good review or glowing praise are equally to be taken in stride.

Original graphic: Stephanie DelTorchio

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