Skip navigation

Are You Sure You Know the Whole Story?

Dec 5, 2011
By Joanne Ladley

Categories: Leadership & Organizational Development

Are You Sure You Know the Whole Story?

December 5, 2011

Are You Sure You Know the Whole Story? by Joanne Ladley

As a consultant with the North Group I get to facilitate a number of peer groups. Establishing ground rules is always part of the first meeting’s agenda and “no judgments” is always one of our ground rules. Judgment makes it so easy to jump to conclusions or to form an opinion even if you don’t know the whole story. When you’re creating a safe environment you’re fostering a healthy community – be it a peer group or an entire city – and quick judgments do not further your cause.

I enjoy a very special opportunity as an Affiliated Consultant with North Group. It means I get to take on projects as my time and North Group’s demand allow.   Consider this story from a tradition called “Giving Back” which the team members of Kitchen Kettle Village – where I spend the other part of my working life – have established at Christmastime.

The Giving Back program spreads across two school districts.  Families receive Christmas dinner and other gifts for their children that they would otherwise not have. We hold bake sales, pancake breakfasts and gather donations from vendors and guests so we can collect and distribute items to those in need.

The spouse (let’s call him John) of one team member, who is particularly moved by the project, reluctantly offered one year to help distribute the gifts when the families came to pick them up at Kitchen Kettle the Friday before Christmas. That night a particular gentleman drove into the parking lot in a beautiful, expensive car and much to John’s surprise got in the line to pick up his free dinner and gifts.

“He drives a nicer car than I do,” John said rather angrily. “What’s he doing here?” As the driver of the car went through the food line it became obvious that John was going to be the one to help this gentleman carry the food and Christmas gifts to the man’s car. Imagine his surprise when the gift recipient asked if John knew how to open the trunk. The man said, “I don’t have a car and my neighbor let me borrow his to come get my food. I’ve never had so nice a car and don’t know where the buttons are to open the trunk.”

Remember, no judgment is a ground rule. You might not know the whole story.

We welcome your comments at

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *