It’s so easy to judge someone who is absent.

Why wouldn’t it be? The person isn’t there to speak for himself or clarify.

Some thoughts on absences and judgment crossed my mind about a month ago, and again I am reminded of this due to recent events. I guess this post will also come in handy as we have personal, social and maybe even work/business-related events coming up this holiday season.

I just have two things on my mind.

First, sometimes we judge absences or attendance based on the role one plays. What do I mean by this? Let’s say you’re attending a wedding, how many are guilty of saying, “It’s okay to be late because I’m not part of the entourage.” Or sometimes, when we miss one event to attend another, people judge us thinking, “Why did she choose that event? She doesn’t have a major role there, just a participant.”

I remember these thoughts came to me when I had to decline certain invitations due to my Sunday ritual of attending the Holy Mass and The Feast. Wait, no, it’s more than just a ritual or an obligation for me. Yes, I may be a “mere participant” there and not be playing in the band or leading a song… To me, this is not just about what role I play in this event, but what role it plays in my life. These two activities that we do on Sundays, mean more to me than obligation, habit or ritual. It’s my family time. It’s my time for prayer. It’s my time to refresh my soul and my heart. I need it, more than it needs me.

Second, I’d like to talk about respect. I’ve shared this to many of my coaching clients that I have very clear boundaries when it comes to my schedule. There are certain things I can readily say “no” to, in a blink of an eye, and care less about the consequences. I missed some client and internal meetings already because of loved ones birthdays or even school events. Yes, even a trick or treat activity when I was a parent volunteer. There was even a time when I prioritized being in a group coaching session with 6 clients, than being in a meeting with an esteemed person.

Sadly, not many people understand our reasons, priorities or even beliefs. Sadly, not many people respect these too. Why is it easier to say, “I’m out of town next week so I can’t attend the meeting” than “I’m spending time with my child next week so I can’t attend the meeting”? Why is it easier to say, “I’m have diarrhea today” rather than “I really just need a break from all the work”? To me, it’s really because we fear judgment, we fear rejection.

Why? Because not many people understand that a commitment you made to your child is to you more important to keep than a client meeting. Not many people understand that your mental well-being is just as important as your physical well-being. Not many people understand that a Christmas play is to you more important than a sales meeting. Not many people understand that cooking for your family as an act of service, to you takes precedence over anything and everything in the world.

Not many understand. Not many respect. And so they judge. It’s sad really. And this is why I tell my clients to look not just for jobs that will suit their skills and experiences, but look for jobs that align with your values and beliefs too.

So the next time you find yourself deciding on whether to attend this event and miss another, ask yourself, “What role does this event play in my life?”

And the next time you find yourself unconsciously judging someone else’s choices, think twice, because what she values may be different from yours.