Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Informed Decisions

This morning in the waiting room of the doctor's office, I was eavesdropping on the people in front of me. Truthfully, I was trying to listen to the TV in front of them and they were loud so I couldn't help it. Anyway, I didn't really hear the context of their conversation but I did distinctly hear this "she don't know me so who cares what she thinks about me anyway?" This is a common theme with people. I understand where they're coming from - a total stranger has no investment in your life so why care about their opinion, right? I get it. I just don't agree.

I care very much what strangers think of me. I won't alter myself to fit the image they want necessarily, but I care. It's the people who know me well that I don't care as much about their opinion. I know it sounds crazy, but let me explain. There's a method to my madness.

If I just met you and you don't like me, I get upset. You don't know me yet. Get to know me and make an informed decision. A first impression, while important, is not enough to base a whole decision on. That's like saying, "we tried this new drug to cure cancer on a single lab rat and it didn't work. I guess it's a bust." You need more data points to come to an accurate conclusion.

Now if someone I've known for many years - like Dr. Jim - said, "dude, after 20 years of being your friend I've come to the conclusion that you're just a prick. I can't hang out with you anymore." I'd be hurt. Hell, I'd be devastated because he's one of my best friends in the world, but I'd understand. I can respect that you did your due diligence and put the time in. You know me as well as anyone can and you've decided that I'm not for you. After 20 years, you're sure about your decision because it comes from a very informed place. You've earned the right to decide you don't like me.

Like I mentioned, new people don't know me and likewise I don't know them. What that means to me is that I have no way of knowing how they'll play into my life in the future. Don't decide on me quickly because who knows what we have to offer each other down the line. Maybe your father's sister's neighbor is an executive somewhere that'll meet me and offer me a job. Maybe you'll need tech help or a photographer and I can help. You just never know.

After two decades, it's safe to say that Dr. Jim knows what I have to offer in life and has factored that into his decision. Things should be weighed and measured. Ask the question "why?" Consider two things - value added and felt effect. What is the value added to life by a person? If you know the answer and it's nothing, then walk. If it's a stranger, then there's no way you know yet and should find out. If the felt effect is positivity or negativity adjust accordingly. If you haven't felt an effect of someone, give it time.

Dr. Jim hasn't walked away from me. He was just a reference point because he knows me well enough to make that decision. Maybe he does think I'm a prick. I called him something similar yesterday - I think it was an impatient asshole - but he supported it and thinks he is one too. Actually I was just teasing him because as a doctor he's supposed to have patients... or patience - that was the joke. Besides, he needs me for tech advice. I need him for doctor advice so we're stuck with each other.

Anyway, I know it goes against the grain. I shouldn't care about strangers and I should care about those close to me. At least that's what societal norms tell me. I just don't see it. Maybe I overanalyze people the way I do situations and that's why I need to know someone well before deciding they are a jerk. I have no idea. I guess what it comes down to is that when I meet someone new I'm leery about making a decision because I'm not sure what I'm losing out on down the line. Simply, I hedge my bets, back my wins and cut my losses - but I gotta know the odds before I do any of it. Phrased in the way of a true gambler, right?

Maybe you agree, maybe you don't. Just think about it the next time you meet someone new and pull away. Think about all the ways this person may play into your life and if you don't know any of them yet, you may wanna hang tight until you do. You could be missing a great opportunity.

Overall, just be informed. It never hurts to know, read, understand, see or comprehend MORE.

No comments: