To judge is human nature, and researchers have found that passing judgment has more to do with ourselves than others. That said, we ultimately judge because of our own insecurities. Earl Nightingale once said, “When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.” Eeek! We judge all the time and we don’t even realize it — strangers in a restaurant, new people on their first day, actions/words in everyday life (boy, that email was scathing). The heart of the matter is, judgment can be extremely detrimental to relationships, work environments and our own psyches.
The next time you meet someone new, try these tips to avoid quick judgments and allow your mind to open to a new relationship.
- Remain present and focus on listening – When you meet someone new, remain in the moment. This will help to avoid judgment and stay grounded on the day at hand without pulling in preconceived notions. Focusing your attention on listening will help draw you into the conversation and force you to remain present (along with all other benefits of being a terrific listener).
- Turn your attention inward – This one is the toughest but you will be better for it. The next time you are overcome with an urge to judge, ask yourself why. This turns the judgment from outward to inward, forces you to confront your insecurities and allows you to acknowledge (at the very least) and grow (at best).
- Avoid shallow judgments – Attire, race, religion, education level, alma mater, vehicle driven, neighborhood they reside in, where they grew up… All of these attributes create labels that lead to judgment and can perpetuate stereotypes – yuck!
- Don’t worry about things out of your control - Another way to look at the above attributes is to determine whether or not they are within your control. For instance, if the individual’s attire is not appropriate, someone in the personnel department or the individual’s supervisor will address it. If you judge that the individual is not qualified for the opportunity, know that they passed the interview process and that there is an ongoing review process in place to further determine fit (i.e., these are not your concerns). Reframing these items will hopefully release your need to ‘judge.’
- Stop the gossip – This means do not partake or initiate gossip. Gossip creates toxicity in the work environment, leads to mean-spirited conversations and takes away from the mission.
- Be empathetic – Next time you start to judge, approach the situation with kindness and empathy. This will help to disarm you, the ‘judger,’ and allow for a new relationship to form.
- Try to learn – Look at a new relationship as a learning opportunity. We all have unique stories and no two people are the same. While we find comfort in our similarities, our differences are what make us who we are.
I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me.