The movie "Wonder" sheds light on various points of view on the same incident through its unique storytelling perspective.
I recently rented the movie Wonder. Besides being a funny and thoughtful movie with great screen writing, it had a larger message. On the surface "choose kind" was the motto of the film and this was shown throughout the film as some people demonstrated kindness, while others did not. However, the method how the story was told is what really caught my eye and provided an even deeper message.
Before we get any further, I need to warn you. In the following paragraphs there are spoilers. So read at your own risk.
The movie in a nutshell
For those of you who haven't seen the movie, it is a heart-warming story of a boy treated differently by his family and people he meets because of the way he looks. He was born with various health problems and deformities. After numerous surgeries he is fairly healthy, but his face is not what most people would call "normal." This makes him self-conscious. Even to the point of constantly wearing a space helmet in public.
Up until now, August (or Auggie as his friends and family call him) the main character has been home-schooled. His parents have decided that now is a good time for Auggie to attend a school with other children, since he is starting middle school like all the other kids. This presents the problem of bullying and making new friends. Both turn out to be severe challenges for Auggie.
It starts to get complicated
While Auggie is at his new school dealing with his problems, his Sister Via has some of her own. She is at a different school than Auggie and was looking forward to seeing her best friend Miranda who has been gone at summer camp. Unfortunately, upon first seeing Miranda again, it seems like she wants nothing to do with Via anymore. This devastates Via because Miranda was her closest and (arguably only) friend.
Miranda's actions are very unusual considering it is revealed that her and Via had been best friends since kindergarten and Miranda had spent a considerable amount of time with the Pullman family. In fact, Miranda was the one who gave Auggie his favorite space helmet. On the surface it seems like Miranda is being a typical stuck up high school girl. She worked at summer camp, got new friends, and now is leaving her old friends behind as she tries to reinvent herself. This is often seen. The idea is supported by Miranda having an apparent hair color and wardrobe change. There is more than meets the eye though.
A different perspective
Auggie is the main character, though throughout the film we see the same situation from multiple perspectives. We see the actions and hear the thoughts of Via, Jack (a new friend of Auggie), and Miranda. By doing this, the audience gets a chance to understand what went into specific choices and it reveals the character's motives.
In the case of Miranda, we learn that over the summer her parents went through a messy divorce and her life has completely fallen apart. While at summer camp she was ashamed of her life situation and unintentionally made people think that she was Via. She told them that she had a brother with a facial deformity and two awesome parents and basically stole everything about Via's life. She didn't mean to do it, but people really liked the heart-warming story and then in turn started liking Miranda.
The problem comes when Miranda goes back home. She was embarrassed by the divorce and misleading people at camp and didn't want Via to find out. So her solution was to ignore Via. Eventually Miranda tells Via everything and they restore their friendship.
Now for the business tie in
This whole long explanation is intended to show that we all have different perspectives. Someone might appear to be a jerk on the surface, but in reality they are just having a bad day. If you are answering a customer service call and the person on the other side of the phone is being unpleasant, don't get the wrong impression. This is probably your only interaction with this person. You don't know their history with your company, how their day is going, or what is going on with their personal life.
So when you are tempted to just write someone off as a jerk, don't do it. They might be struggling with some serious issues and you just happen to be the person who has to take the heat this time. Maybe in the future you will be the one who is considered a jerk. Don't let that happen. Choose kind.
Ethan Hausmann is currently the Vice President of Marketing and Community Outreach for Successtar Enterprises LLC. He is an author, professional speaker, and seminar/workshop instructor. Ethan has extensive knowledge and experience in marketing, customer service, leadership, and other small business related concerns.