Many influential speakers, coaches, and teachers tell us we should stop judging other people.
Is that realistic?
Our natural fear of being judged is nearly as strong as our instinct to judge others. Making a judgement or establishing expectations we have in others doesn’t mean we come to a negative conclusion.
We make assessments based on our knowledge of context, our experiences, fears, and then some. We also take information from others we trust into account, and what we want in life.
What we can expect from others regarding morality is another important factor in our judgements.
A fact of life is that we’re still the same species as the cavemen who made judgements with wooden clubs.
Our brain’s sole job is to make sure we survive. For that, even in a civilized society, judgements are crucial. Constantly.
We make these assessments subconsciously, and they are necessary to keep us safe and define our relationship with another person.
Making judgement is also necessary because we cannot afford to rethink everything we believe (may it be accurate or false) every single day.
For instance, if we know the person standing at the corner pushed over the last twelve people who walked by, a healthy risk assessment might lead us to change the side of the road. Even though that he pushed over the last twelve people doesn't mean he will push us over.
We form opinions, based on assumptions and knowledge, and we cannot afford to study everything and everyone from 0 each day.
That’s also why it is difficult to get people to see that you have changed when you did. (There’s a trick I learned from Marshall Goldsmith, but that’s a topic for a different article.)
People form an opinion, and interact with you accordingly. If they’d never judged you (established how they expect you to behave, what your values are, what you stand for, how you treat others, etc), they could also never be your friend.
Why do you like, love, value, or respect a person? You judged them, and your conclusion is positive (or in line with what you’re looking for in a relationship.)
People’s traits and needs are based on their temperament. In order to form and nurture positive relationships, we can try to pick people up where they’re coming from.
To do that, we need an understanding of what makes them tick, their basic motive, fears, and desires.
We can “judge” people with a positive agenda, to get where they’re coming from, and help them get where they want to go.
It’s still judgements, but they are fluid to a certain extent, and can change as we learn more about an individual.
During our assessment phase, we can be kind, open-minded, and listen carefully.
People’s fear of being judged is just so strong that this natural survival skill has a bad connotation.
We cannot change that we judge people instantly, as if our survival depended on it, because it does.
Fortunately, we can work on removing selfish and fear-based factors.
Emotional awareness helps us to recognize unwanted elements that influence our decision-making and remove them.
We can focus on judging people based on an agenda that reflects who we want to be or become.
For instance, you could focus on the question: What can I do for this person to make a positive impact in their lives? What do they need from me to be better off (or happier) than prior to our encounter?
To achieve that, it's necessary to determine (or make an accurate assumption of) their needs and desires.
Emotional Intelligence training, such as “The Fortunate Few” (coming soon) can help you become more influential and increase your emotional awareness, by getting better at understanding yourself and everyone else.
The act of judging someone isn’t the problem. The problem begins when we treat people poorly to protect status or emotions. We might be closed-minded, with a rigid belief-system or lack empathy.
The more we get another person, the more we love/respect/like them.
When we’re disappointed by people, we had wrong expectations, based on a lack of understanding. We didn’t get them.
An important misconception about empathy is that it means knowing how you would feel if you walked in someone’s shoes.
No, no, no! Empathy meanings knowing how THEY feel walking in their shoes.
A lack of tolerance is most often based on a lack of understanding.
“If that happened to me, I would….” Ok, maybe you would, but you’re not them.
They might have a different culture, basic need (temperament), different experiences, and much more.
Neither a lack of tolerance, nor inability to get someone is related to making judgements.
It suggests that a person who lacks emotional intelligence, specifically empathy, will likely take negative action, or make biased or small-minded judgements.
A few suggestions what you could take away from this article: