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I Don’t Like… (Fill in the blank)

I was having dinner with my family the other evening when my 12 year-old daughter recounted her recent conversation with a classmate.  Somehow their conversation drifted to the possibility of our families vacationing together, or in the same Hawaii location, and the classmate then told her that might not be such a good idea because his uncle doesn’t like her dad (me).  He explained that the uncle is in the same business as her dad (me), had never met him (me), but that he (me) was pretty famous in his business.  We actually had a good laugh about the whole thing.  It reminded me of the countless times in my years on Wall Street when I’d heard second and third hand how so-and-so didn’t like me or had bad things to say about me, and how invariably the person was unknown to me and had never even met me.

I explained to my daughter how we are all guilty of judging others, and this is never really ok.  I told her how we all form opinions of others, and most often don’t really know the person, and sometimes, if they’re famous, we don’t know them at all and have never met them but are still quick to have, and voice opinions about them.  This is so very wrong.

I recall being at a seminar of Anthony Robbins’ a few years ago.  He gave a depiction of someone very vividly and in a very funny and unflattering way.  Minutes later he told us that the depiction was a complete fabrication, but now that depiction was so ingrained in our minds that probably forever, even now knowing it was untrue, we would have a very difficult time erasing it from our minds when we thought of that individual.  The point of his exercise was to demonstrate how powerfully damaging passing along secondhand information about another could be.  We can very easily destroy reputations and lives with our tongues, or in this electronic age the stroke of a keyboard, as what we say about another is awfully hard to erase.

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