This post on judging people was supposed to give you tools to help you to stop judging others. I decided to hold off on the helpful tools post because I needed to make sure I wasn’t just spouting off and was talking about something personal to me.
In case you are not one of my regular readers, you should know the purpose of my blog is to share my experiences and personal growth lessons I am learning at this juncture in my life. So when I finished the first post on judging people I wondered why I felt compelled to write it. Now when I use the word “judge or judging”, I mean making a decision or assumption about someone before you meet and talk with him or her. In the first post, I admitted to being guilty of judging people. But the more I thought about why I was writing the post the more I came to realize that I used to judge people … a lot!
I used to decide who a person was and what he or she could or couldn’t do before I got to know them based gender, looks, position or title about 98% of the time! (about now, all my friends are staring at this with their mouths hanging open). I also realized that I unfairly judged people because I was insecure. When I looked at other people I would size myself up against them, or rather who I thought they were based upon their appearance, and I always came up short. So I would pigeon-hole people into artificial categories which gave me an excuse why I didn’t want to interact with them. After all, if I didn’t interact with them, they wouldn’t find out about my insecurities. The downside was that 98% of my judgments were wrong. The person I judged to be a dynamic leader based upon a title couldn’t lead herself out of a paper bag. The person I judged to be an idiot based upon a shabby appearance turned out to a very influential person in the community. The other downside was I became very critical of people and always saw what was “wrong” with them. I didn’t value people’s uniqueness. Mind you, all of this was going on in my head; I never said these things to people.
I also realized that I used to judge or make assumptions about someone even after I got to know him or her. You know, assuming that “Mary would react in this way” in a situation or “John would never do that” just to find out later I was wrong. As I think about it, it’s really funny because I’m a lawyer and the word “know” has a very concrete meaning in the law. The word “know” to a lawyer means you saw it with your own eyes. That’s why eyewitness testimony is the most reliable and best evidence; it isn’t based on what someone else told someone or an assumption of what happened. How many times have you watched the news and heard friends or neighbors of someone who committed a heinous crime say I didn’t know he or she was capable of doing something like that? I made assumptions about people’s responses because I was insecure. If I didn’t approach a person about a situation, I didn’t have to deal with that person’s response or that person wouldn’t see my shaky reaction. When I did this, I unknowingly deprived people of the right to make decisions about their lives.
In case you haven’t guessed, judging people either beforehand or making assumptions about them didn’t help me to become a better person. It was making me a withdrawn person and frankly I didn’t like being that way. Although I didn’t fully realize I was unfairly judging people, I began to implement some strategies for relating to people better, strategies that I learned from reading personal growth books. These strategies helped me to judge and assume less often. In the final post in this series, I will give you those strategies.
Question for Comment: How often do you find yourself judging or making assumptions about others? How accurate are your assumptions?