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By now you may have picked up on the fact that, in my head, I hear certain things in particular voices. I think I am a fairly auditory person. I can hear the words to a song three times and know all of it’s lyrics well enough that I can sing along with perfect mimicry of intonation and flourish… but only if the music is playing at the same time. Otherwise I hear bits and pieces. When I read something, I can hear the author or character’s voice if I have heard it three or more times before. Jokes, movie lines, and other such tidbits are all things that I hear in certain voices. The title of this post is in the voice I always hear it in – the voice of Sid, the Cussing White Rabbit from North London.
Sid was a character on Craig Ferguson’s Late Late Show on CBS. I say was because they phased Sid and almost all of the other cold open puppets out of the show. I think this is sad because I was, and am, a huge fan of Sid. Wildly inappropriate, filthy, and hilariously funny, Sid was a rabbit who sounded a lot like a woodland David Beckham – or he would have if his woodland wasn’t North London and he didn’t frequently travel – by burrow – to punk concerts. (Sid, not David Beckham, I have no idea how David Beckham gets around but I doubt that Posh even takes the Underground so I think that burrow would be out.)
Anyway, one of the things that Sid said was, “Hey Man, don’t judge.” I spent about an hour on YouTube trying to find the clip to link to it so you could hear what I hear in my head, but I couldn’t. It’s probably for the best, though, since CBS and Worldwide Pants seem to be pretty adamant about not posting anything anywhere and, therefore, seem to frequently take down links to any and all Sid clips. Oh, they pop right back up, but it would be difficult to maintain a stable link anyway. Just Google it or, if you’re not into the idea of listening to a rabbit puppet tell stories with frequent bleeping for language, just imagine what a punk fan rabbit from North London would sound like telling you not to judge.
Why do I remember this particular phrase in Sid’s voice? Well, I think it’s sort of eloquent in it’s simplicity. It was the first time I heard it that way versus, say, the voice of the super hippy guy down at your local co-op. You know the one, he smells like granola and incense, extends the words so that they have extra syllables, and he is wearing a lot of beads. The way he says it makes it sort of a challenge.
As evidenced by the previous paragraph, not judging is extremely hard for humans to do. Hippy co-op guy is probably a great person who you could go to with all kinds of horticulture questions, but you’d have to get past your initial judgments. (Yes, I know that I somehow managed to be judge-y in the same sentence as I was saying you should get past your initial judgements. I am a great example of someone who probably has to get past a truckload of judgements.)
And that is the point (HA! I *DO* have one!), when we judge people we close doors. Sometimes that is okay. Some doors lead us places that aren’t right for us to be. Most of the time, though, we’re all better off if we leave as many doors open as possible.
To put it another way, give people the benefit of the doubt
You know that quote you’ve seen about how you shouldn’t judge someone because you don’t know what challenges they are facing/you haven’t walked in their shoes/you don’t know their battle/they are stronger than you could know/they are actually a puppy dressed as a kitten dressed as a person? You know, the one with a background photo of a lion/rainstorm/sunrise/cloudy silhouette/puppy dressed as a kitten dressed as a cloudy silhouette? Still no? Okay, just go to Facebook and scroll through your feed or spend a minute and a half on Pinterest. It’s okay, I’ll wait.
Oh, back already? Yeah, I suppose a minute and a half was an unnecessary long period of time for the task.
Anyway, what the Puppy Kitten Silhouette is talking about is something called Fundamental Attribution Error
– that means that we tend “to place an undue emphasis on internal characteristics to explain someone else's behavior in a given situation, rather than considering external factors”. More plainly, we tend to think that people act a certain way because of their character rather than their circumstance. Sandy isn’t in her office because she has no work ethic and is probably drinking wine out of her daughter’s sippy cup and marathoning Real Housewives of Somewhere No One Cares About, not because someone else came to her office 5 minutes before you with a similar problem that required her to leave her desk. Nope, Sandy is terrible… not like you, you NEVER leave your desk.
How are you standing outside Sandy’s door if you never leave your desk? I sure hope no one is at YOUR office door right now... better hurry back there and hide that sippy cup!
There is a difference between what you assume and what you know. That is what Puppy Kitten Silhouette was trying to tell you all along. So give people the benefit of the doubt and “Hey man, don’t judge.”
This post was originally featured on the blog "I Try: The Additive Property of Happiness".