We all judge, it’s human nature and we shouldn’t try to deny it. But judgement can be self-limiting or, worse still, destructive.
Often the word judgement comes across as a negative. For instance the statement “I felt judged for…” might be followed by a justification or a defensive posture. Understandable when you consider the amount of judging we do nowadays is bloody huge! And the outlets we have for passing judgement? Equally bloody huge.
Take social media for example. Depending on your generation you’re either observing the current levels of judgement, or you’re smack-bang in the thick of it judging and being judged. If you’re in my age group of 35-55 you might be joining me in the former. Do you perhaps think it appears to be rife in the younger generation? Hope not, for judgment knows no bounds.
Even some of the terms we’re using nowadays are specific to judgement; gender-centric, misogynistic, political correctness, bullying, stigma, fat-shaming, in fact ‘anything’ shaming. These terms are not new but the frequency we’re seeing and hearing them is definitely increasing.
There’s two ways we can deal with being judged.
- Question relentlessly. Take the judgements we see/hear/feel deep into ourselves and allow them to slowly eat us away as we question everything over and over again.
- Filter first. Take what we’re hearing and allow logic to rise above emotion. We can closer examine what’s being delivered, then absorb the constructive and dismiss the negative.
For those of us better at controlling our negative thought processes we don’t hang about in option one for very long. But I’ll be honest with you and say, depending on the delivery, I’ll go step one for a brief moment before heading for the common sense of step two. Is that you too?
There’s a few alternative ways to describe the act of judgment. We might say we reflect, ponder, assess, investigate, evaluate, take on board, discuss further. These are all quite positive sounding but they still contain a passive inference to judgement. That’s the part we humans can’t escape. No matter the word or the term, we’re still judging. And when we’re delivering judgement? What then? Given most of us have experienced the negative side, isn’t that cause enough to become a person who better manages their judgment genes?
When I’ve closer examined some of the judgements of my past there’s strong evidence to suggest I’ve denied myself. With the benefit of hindsight I can see where I missed out on interesting opportunities, made poor assessments of people, rushed my interpretations, or lost out on some excellent experiences. But that was my past.
Yes I am occasionally still prone to jumping to judgmental conclusions, but I make an effort to tackle that early. I put away my measuring stick shaped by my past experiences and apply a simple yet effective rule. Let’s start with 10 points before saying they’ve lost them.
With that rule I encourage myself to stop judging for two seconds and give people or situations a chance. I’m willing to say to my judgmental self that “I don’t know anything yet so why am I judging?” This allows me to see how things unfold before I’ve tainted them with my predilections. In many cases this can take a fair bit of personal courage. ‘Tis a brave soul who ventures forth when all around be stayin’ put.
I’m not dismissing our right to judge, there are and always will be situations where evidence and instinct will quite rightly point us toward a wise decision. But I want to encourage people to stall the “shoot first” judgmental mindset and its way of thinking. If you see even the smallest reason to doubt something, explore the risk of doing so. Results involve risk, we all know that. So why can’t challenging our judgements or perhaps removing them be a part of the risk/results/reward equation?