For a lot of people, work is where they have their first experience dealing with people who are different from them. This experience may be either consoling or a wake up call. If you’ve spent your entire life around people who are like you, than encountering someone unlike you may be a shock.

Early in my career, I was laid off, after less than a year, from my first job out of graduate school. Because I needed to pay my rent while looking for a new job, I decided to try temping.

While the experience left me with a ton of great stories and a new respect for the various service workers I encountered on a daily basis, working as a receptionist, it also allowed me to appreciate and acknowledge everyone’s story.

At one position, I worked alongside another temporary worker named Lisa. Lisa was nice, but she was always late. I mean everyday, she was 15 minutes to a half an hour late. I began to resent that I was always there on time but Lisa never was.

As I got to know her more and we became good friends, I learned that Lisa was a divorced mother of one, who lived with her parents all the way across town. And the reason she was late every morning was because she had to take her daughter to school then take the bus cross town, because she could not afford a car.

The next time you feel the need to judge someone, take a moment to learn about and acknowledge their story, because it may be very different from your own.