Benefit of the Doubt

“Hi” I said as a co-worker approached in the hall. No response at all, again. We’ve worked together for years and successfully completed projects so I always expect some sort of response. Doesn’t have to be verbose, just an acknowledgement would be fine. Seriously, how hard is it to say hello back and be a little friendly? This had gone on for several months and I finally just accepted it as normal.

Recently this individual has taken up one of my favorite hobbies and naturally began asking questions. Now we laugh, research, talk for extended times and somehow squeeze in some work. Is this the same person who doesn’t say Hi to me in the hall?

One day we were outside discussing nothing in particular and this individual opened up about some tremendous personal issues. I’ve heard a lot of personal issues, so unfortunately, I anticipate the ending. His story was different though; it just kept going with life altering obstacles one right after another and often multiple challenges at the same time. I just stared in disbelief and felt an overwhelming sense of compassion. It all made sense now….

When I have a headache, neck ache, or don’t feel good I’m not the most friendly, excitable, person. Toss in stress from personal issues and you may see me but I’m not really here.

Often other people are dealing with incredible circumstances that they don’t share. They may appear aloof, unfriendly, or unsociable, but in reality they’re just dealing the best they can. Headaches are usually gone in a few hours, but life events can go on for months or even years.

The next time I encounter someone less than friendly, I’m going to just send them some compassion. Who knows what they’re facing and a little compassion might be just what they need.