Making Assumptions

April 18, 2011


You know what they say about making assumptions?

I have heard that it is not polite to discuss religion in public, but this is a topic that irks me and I want to address it. The Jewish holiday of Passover starts tonight. People assume that it is an important holiday to me because my last name is Levin. Tonight I will be going to a sedar. My aunt Gaye is an amazing cook and I enjoy seeing my family. My Nana has asked me at least ten times “when am I going to see you?” Imagine this being said to me in the most typical Long Island old-lady accent (yup, I’m stereotyping). I am going to the dinner to see my family, but not because I practice Judaism.  In fact, next weekend I will be gathering with my extended family to celebrate Easter. That’s right, a woman named Jessica Levin is going to be eating a spiral ham and deviled eggs. I might even dye some eggs.

I bring this up, not to share my personal traditions, but because my experience is indicative of a larger problem. When we meet people we make immediate assumptions. We judge people on what they are wearing, what car they drive, what their last name is and what title is on their business card. We make assumptions about people based on their age, gender and even marital status. We form opinions about women who have children and work and about women who choose not to have children.

This is not all bad. We assume that we have things in common with people based our observations and  on the information that we collect. I have accepted LinkedIn connections from people simply because they mentioned that we went to the same college or once worked at the same company.  Finding commonalities is a good thing. Making assumptions about people based on information or perceptions is not so good.

So my advice is to ask people about themselves and listen to the stories that they share.  Learn what is important to them. Find commonalities based on who they are as individuals, not based on who YOU think they should be.  If you take a few minutes to try and understand someone you can form a relationship quicker than if you make an assumption.

So to ALL of my friends and readers, Happy Passover, Happy Easter, Happy Monday and Happy Spring! Have some matzah ball soup and finish it off with a Cadbury Creme Egg.