Judgment has always been a scourge in our world, but it’s been awhile since it has risen to the level it has today. It’s a natural human tendency to judge things as good or bad, right or wrong, but it’s not a tendency that serves us well. It’s not because judgments are intrinsically evil, but because they’re formed by emotion instead of objective analysis.
Our tendency to judge creates several problems for us, it:
- Ignores reality
- Closes our minds
- Creates defensiveness
- Leads to frustration and, potentially, violence.
If we make a truly objective analysis of experiences, people and ideas, we find that none are all good or all bad, all right or all wrong.
Who among us hasn’t had something happen to us, thought it was bad, then later realized that it was “The best thing that ever happened to me.”?
In a similar vein, who hasn’t felt that someone was evil only to discover later that they’d shown kindness to others?
Finally, who among us, after exploring an idea contrary to our beliefs, found legitimacy in some aspect of that idea?
In my experience, there are advantages and disadvantages to everything…experiences, ideas and others’ actions.
Judgment closes our minds to alternative ways of thinking. Absent an exploratory mindset we limit our growth. We no longer learn from others. Instead, we destine ourselves to mistakes that could have been avoided if we’d learned from others’ experiences.
We shut out people whom we believe are evil instead of exploring their rationale and learning from their perceptions…whether we agree or not. Knowing their motivations can help us understand their actions and work toward a mutually-beneficial arrangement. We might also be able to help them change behaviors that don’t serve them well…behaviors that they might not be aware that they are doing.
When we judge experiences before letting all of the ramifications play out, we trigger emotions that often lead to choices we regret later. Isn’t it our knee-jerk reactions that tend to cause us pain?
Along with judgments we automatically develop the need to defend our judgment. When we’re challenged our natural reaction is to defend instead of pursuing greater understanding. In doing so we replace collaboration with its win/win potential with divisiveness and a win/lose, zero-sum result.
Our closed minds, and our defensiveness result in frustration over others’ inability to see the logic of our position while giving no credence to theirs. The more entrenched we become in our judgments, the more frequently we fight battles over who’s right and who’s wrong, the angrier we become. As anger grows, so does the propensity for violence.
This is what we’re experiencing today. The violence we’re experiencing today is in large part because as a society we’ve become increasingly judgmental. Each of us has it in our power to reverse this trend. It won’t happen quickly, but it’s not likely to happen at all unless we make a concerted effort in our daily lives.
At times I feeling like I’m preaching to the choir. I’m certain that most of the readers of this blog share my beliefs, so please consider this a reminder of what you already know about lessening the impact emotional judgment elicits.
In your daily dealings, when you catch yourself being judgmental (a trap easily fallen into), stop and remind yourself that it’s essential to ask exploratory questions. Questions like “What am I missing (overlooking) with my judgment? In which situations might my thinking be incorrect? What can I learn from further exploration that will help me make more informed decisions?”
The more frequently you employ these questions, especially in your dealings with others, the more likely they are to appreciate your openness, the fact that you’re not judging them or their ideas. With their appreciation of your approach, they are more likely to become more open, less defensive and more tolerant of others’ beliefs.
To give you a sense for the impact these actions have, a few years ago a high school teacher said “It never ceases to amaze me how quickly you connect with the kids.” When I shared that experience with my mastermind group one of them said “Of course. You don’t judge them. You accept them for who they are.” All that it takes to connect well with others, to lay the basis for mutual trust and respect, is to avoid judging them or their ideas.
For our kids
If you don’t live this message, it’s highly likely that your kids will become judgmental. For it is our judgments about what is right or wrong, good or bad, expressed regularly, that form their judgments. It’s these judgments that they will take into their dealings with others who don’t share their experiences, their ideas, their sense of what’s right or wrong. In other words, you will increase the likelihood that they’ll live in a violent society.
If, however, you avoid making judgments, at least until you’ve explored opposing ideas, then your kids will learn to be slow to judgment. They won’t feel threatened by challenges to their thinking. Instead, they’ll earn and encourage mutual trust and respect which are essential to preventing future violence.
You can begin, today, to minimize the scourge of judgment. I hope you’ll join me in that effort.
Feel free to share this blog with those whom you feel would benefit from this message. It’s an easy way to say “I love you. I’m thinking of you.”
I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your insights in a comment.
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