Drop The Judgment: A Look At Why We Assume, and How We Can Change

Once a person’s brain slips into judgment mode, their curiosity is doomed. The real power is in the choice to suspend judgment and let curiosity thrive. In my recent article The Right Way To Be Wrong: Releasing Judgment, Assumptions, & Conclusions, I suggested that I’m ready to release my tendency to make assumptions and re-lease my sensibilities by scrutinizing the first impressions I make. I’m committed to thoughtfulness, remembering that I’m not a mind reader and don’t know how others will respond or react to a thought, word or action. And I humbly admitted that others probably won’t react how I react, because each of us sees the world through our own unique set of eyes.

Granted, it’s difficult for me to catch myself making assumptions, thanks to a deep unconscious tendency to establish first impressions and personal biases. Then, judgment is quick to follow my assumptions. Since I’m being transparent and all, why don’t I just confess that I’m a wildly judgmental person? Well, there’s power in that confession, and it inspires me to change. Consider putting aside your propensity to judge, and open up your world with curiosity and appreciation. It’ll be worth your while. Here’s why.

Firstly, What Is Judgment, Anyway?

We live in a judgmental world, and not only does this paradigm mitigate curiosity, it squashes empathy. Remember, a judgment is an opinion of worth about a perceived reality— an interpretation of a situation, a person, an activity or a request based on your values. Typically, judgment involves an opinion regarding superiority vs inferiority, appropriate vs inappropriate, or right vs wrong. Given the exact same perceived reality, different people may have different opinions about its morality, ethics or logic. This is precisely why judgment can be so dangerous; it creates separation because the act results in defining what is right, wrong, good or bad.

Have you ever caught yourself thinking that your way of doing something is the better way? (A rhetorical question, for sure) Perhaps it’s because you think fondly of yourself and your level-headedness. It could also be a sense of inferiority in disguise, as in, “I judge you because I’m jealous or I’m projecting”!

Second, Why is Judging So Bad?

Should I care if you judge my choice of clothing as inferior to yours, or my decision to become a vegan as environmentally overreaching? If we’re strangers on the street, the answer is No. Neither of us need care (unless perhaps you believe in an energetic connection between us all). But when it comes to the workplace, your judgment of my managerial style may close you down to hearing my ideas. And how could anyone who wears that suit have a good idea? When you judge, you create an “us against them” division, and that’s just not good for business!

Thirdly, How Can You Tell If You’re Judgmental?

Think you’re not judgmental? You may want to think again. We live in a society that tends to promote judgment and we often don’t realize we’re being positional in our attitudes. Marketers depend on this! Whether it’s Gucci or Chanel, Coke or Pepsi, the Giants or the Cowboys, we judge others by their associations and brand loyalties.

An addiction to being right is at the root of judgmental behavior. In the business world, we’ve shown ourselves to be even more inclined to these tendencies, since we need to show up “strong and sure”, and as confidence most certainly tops competence in this (still) egocentric workplace landscape. Plus, not only are we driven to be judgmental and competitive, but we’re leveraging our executive presence. In other words, we’re manipulating how people judge us.

With all of this in mind, ask yourself if you do these things:

-Tell someone how to do it, how it should be done, the better way, that they’re not doing it right, etc.

-Interpret or diagnose the other person’s thoughts, feelings or behavior (“You’re being passive-aggressive.” “You just hate me.” “You’re lazy/don’t care/are irresponsible.” etc.)

-Get amped up about an opinion, belief, or point of view

-Defend your position, intention, what you “really” said, etc.

-Tell the other person what’s wrong with them, including that they’re the one insisting on being right!

Judgment is also at the root of blame and finding fault with others. This leads to the release of cortisol in your brain and others’, which in-turn leads to greater division and more judgment. It’s a classic negativity loop!

Finally, How Can You Stop Judging?

Self-awareness is the first step to any change. So, to become less judgmental, your challenge is to catch yourself in the act. Try to go through a whole day (or even just an hour) without criticizing someone else, having the last word, smirking, clicking your tongue, judging, prejudging, or in any other way typecasting others.

Can’t do it? You’re already judging yourself! Show yourself some compassion. Appreciate that you tried to change your behavior. Then, take this baby step: Start to get curious. Instead of thinking, “Wow, he must have dressed himself in a dark closet”, think to yourself, “I wonder why he matched the stripes with the polka dots.”

Next week, we’ll go deep into two mindsets that permit you to release judgment. This dedication can lead to a reward; you will open your mind up to greater learning and a wide-angle view of the world.

If you enjoy what you’re reading and are considering living life more fully, schedule a complimentary consultative session with DRIVEN HERE.