Some people judge others at the speed of sound, bluntly and mercilessly. They’re guided by a narrow perspective and an empty heart, without an ounce of empathy. The seed of egocentrism has been planted in their minds, a seed that has also planted in our surroundings.
Learning from our mistakes, biases, and misconceptions is an art that is very difficult to master. First of all, because it requires breaking down the wall of the aforementioned ego, which involves restructuring the foundations of one’s identity. How can you admit that you were wrong to judge another person if you were taught to distrust that which you do not know?
We live in a society where value judgments prevail, everybody knows that. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much effort you put into something, because there will always be those who will gladly tack a label on you to distinguish you in this world of complex flora and fauna. But it doesn’t matter that this world is as chaotic as a jungle. It doesn’t matter how many times people judge you or put false labels on you.
They’re just words, empty actions, background noise. Because in such a complicated world, the only thing of any value is authenticity, and that is the only thing you should work to preserve every day, in every moment.
We all judge, whether it’s with good or bad intentions
We all do it. Everybody makes value judgments in their daily lives and their relationships. However, instead of viewing this psychological resource as a negative, you have to accept it for what it really is: a natural need to evaluate and control the unknown.
Judgment is a survival mechanism. However, the way you do it feeds directly into your personality, your ingrained biases, and your flexibility of thought. According to work done by Harvard University, people spend no more than a few seconds evaluating someone. In fact, our judgments are based on two basic questions:
- Can I trust this person?
- Does this person deserve my respect?
Psychologists from Harvard refer to the first as warmth, and the second as competence. If you’re talking about competence from a work perspective, it’s an essential factor. Can this person guarantee our productivity? Are they a respectful leader? Are they creative and motivating? Could I work in a team with them?
On the other hand, warmth, or trust, is one of the most important aspects of our lives. In fact, it’s crucial for our survival. Trust means being able to share, bond, and grow. Therefore, we judge others based on what we see and how they make us feel to determine whether we can trust that person or not.
But it’s clear that we aren’t always right…
Poor judgment and the value of self-correction
If judging is part of survival, it’s necessary to know how to accept poor judgment and learn from it. However, as we already know, this attitude isn’t too abundant. Every judgment that you make is part of your deepest self, your upbringing, values, experiences, and interpretations, however correct or incorrect they may be.
It takes humility to accept poor judgment as a mistake. Wisdom comes from being able to reconstruct frameworks of thought and thus improve coexistence with others. Above all, it involves change. If you’re capable of judging others, you should also be capable of judging yourself.
Learn how to take control of harmful judgments
We already know that we cast judgments almost instinctively. A first step towards avoiding crude biases and stereotypes is assuming a more reflective attitude. Before you come to a conclusion about someone or something, remember the following:
- Every judgment that you pass reflects a part of yourself. Ask yourself what made you think that way, make that judgment, or choose that label.
- Don’t relate behaviors with “types of people.” Every person is a unique entity, so don’t put the chains of judgment on someone who, like you, was born to be free and different from everyone else.
- Look for the good in each person. Even if you don’t believe it, even if you struggle to see it at first, that person who seems untrustworthy because of their image might be hiding things that you could learn from, greatness that you could imitate, virtues that could inspire you.
Last but not least, try to feel good about yourself. Because people who are in harmony with themselves, who are satisfied with who they are and what they have, don’t judge others. People who fill their emptiness with the assurance of a good self-esteem don’t see defects where there are none. They don’t look for victims onto whom they can project their own shortcomings.