My sister and I have had several conversations about judgement lately. The context has been about the detrimental impact to people and communities— how harsh judgement fractures relationships and thwarts connection.
Judgement is a very powerful concept. Defined as the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions, it’s a compliment to be thought of as someone with “good” or “sound” judgement. The art of critical thinking is taught in schools and businesses to help people develop their ability to do objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment. We value good judgement as a positive attribute in ourselves and in others.
On the other hand, most of us balk at the idea of being thought of as judgmental. Definitely not a compliment to be considered overly critical, fault-finding, or disparaging (all synonyms of judgmental). Being judgmental is thinking critically, minus the objective analysis. It’s confusing personal preferences and opinions as truth and labeling differences as threatening or wrong.
So it’s fair to say most of us would rather judge than be judged.
Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, coined the term “narcissism of the slight difference”—as a belief that the small things that are different are more important than commonalities. We attack others who we perceive as different because we can’t both be right, can we? We focus on the differences as a way to make us feel better about ourselves at the expense of others.
But differences and the belief that those who are different from us are “wrong” pushes people apart and drives conflict, communication disconnects, and the experience of being judged as less than. We watch this play out all the time in politics on the world stage. But it happens every day in family and work situations too.
Being judgmental is easy. You can just dismiss the other person or the other group of people as wrong and walk away. Taking the time and being open to objective analysis can feel like too much work.
The question is—why should differences always lead to issues? The answer is—they shouldn’t. Differences are what add the spice to life, fueling teamwork, community, and so much more. If we were all exactly alike, the world would be incredibly dull, and most likely, we would have died off as a species.
The world is a complex place that demands we work together, cooperate, respect alternative viewpoints, and accept the challenges they bring. By opening up to what others bring that is different, we can accomplish more than we could each working alone on a project, problem, or crisis.
Perhaps we can all judge a little less.
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About Lynda-Ross Vega
Lynda-Ross Vega is a partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd. She specializes in helping corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, and individuals with interpersonal communications, team dynamics, personal development, and navigating change. Lynda-Ross is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary behavioral psychology theory and assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their natural strengths and build the life and career they dream of. For free information on how to succeed in business and in life doing more of what you do best, visit https://www.YourTalentAdvantage.com.
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