A Coaching Power Tool created by Jacqueline Pittman Bassett
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher. Pema Chodron
Here Comes the Judge
It seems, judging is a uniquely adult human trait. Animals don’t judge. Babies don’t judge—it’s a learned trait. We judge more harshly those who are unlike us: “them.” Those like “us” are assessed more favorably. We judge people by everything about them, including dress, speech, statements, hair, mannerisms, views, tattoos, weight, skin color, income, even their dog.
Judging is a natural human reaction. Or is it? Judging informs our life. How so? What does it mean to judge another individual, particularly upon a first meeting? How does this initial, and often uninformed, assessment inform our view of the person, curbing potential value we may see in them? Conversely, why are we so concerned about the judgment of others?
Heady questions indeed. But valid questions to ponder as we consider our perspectives, reactions, and assessments of the world and people, much of which may be deeply ingrained and unconscious with some heavy lifting required to uncover our learned nuances that help explain that “gut feeling.”
When we judge, we become critical. One problem with criticism is that it simply doesn’t feel good. When we are critical, we focus on what we don’t like rather than on what we do like. If you have ever been in a critique group, you know that the critiques nearly always lean toward what is wrong with the work presented—it’s what we naturally focus on.
Judging takes the focus off of us and makes us feel better about ourselves. Insecurities cause people to judge. Belief systems cause people to judge. When we judge, what can we value? Often our judgments hold us back. Judging could be office gossip and statements such as:
- “We all know how she got the job.”
- “Did you see the way she was dressed?”
- “He always comes in late.”
- “He’s such a suck-up.”
- “If she were a real manager, she’d…”
- “He lives in a bad part of town.”
- “She’s one of those yoga/new age types.”
- “She’s half his age.”
- “I can’t believe they live that way.”
- “Their house is filthy.”
- “Who eats like that?”
- “I can’t believe the way he dresses.”
- “She looks like a hooker.”
- “Did you see her tattoo?”
- “How much plastic surgery has she had?”
Judging can also come through in our actions as we avoid people, stare, don’t invite them, don’t hire them, or don’t work with them.
Self-awareness means recognizing when we are judging, as opposed to merely observing. An awareness of judging is essential and needs to be developed. We have to ask ourselves if we are judging as an initial reaction, or are we finding potential value in others? How is judging impeding our relationships?
The Value of Valuing
Value means to consider with respect to work, excellence, usefulness, or importance. What does valuing look like? It starts with making a commitment to appreciating the differences and learning to value a person’s uniqueness. It’s realizing it’s not “I’m always right and you’re always wrong.” It’s recognizing when our comments and actions are judgmental, moving away from that to see value in others, and reflecting that value through our words AND actions.
Just as there are consequences with judging, potentially exponential benefits arise from valuing another individual, both initially and ongoing. Valuing means not simply avoiding putting others in judgmental categories that might be dismissive, but seeing in each individual we meet what we can gain from them in a very positive way. What can we learn, what new perspective, new insight, even potential connections to advance our personal or professional pursuits (not bad things as any successful networker will reaffirm).