Why You Should Never Be Quick to Judge People

by tinacollins

Everyday we make a judgement. Whether it's between two choices, a film or even a book. But, have you ever been quick to make a judgement about someone else?

A judgement is a valuation made by someone, equally likely to be you, about a product, topic, belief or person. It is based on knowledge, perception, reviews, word of mouth and experience of said subject.

Judgements can be made over time or they can be quick, usually in the first few seconds of coming in contact or hearing about it or them.

However, those judgements can be wrong and, if so, who exactly do they impact?

Do First Impressions Count?

It is widely known that first impressions count but should they really where people are concerned? If you make a snap decision or judgement about a film, book, product or service, you are ultimately only hurting yourself. If your judgement turns out to be wrong, for whatever reason, then only you have missed out.

But, to judge a person just by first impressions or by word of mouth can be devastating for the person involved. If your impressions are wrong then the person you have made a judgement against can easily say, "Well, you are no great loss to me as a friend/colleague/member of family, because you made an incorrect judgement about me without knowing all the facts."

So, they haven't lost out but you have. But, in making an incorrect judgement you have ultimately caused them great pain and loss.

I often make a judgement on books, films and products, just by the product title, the price, the synopsis or the features. Am I wrong to do this? Possibly! But, it isn't doing anyone any harm. I never find out whether I was wrong to make that decision; I just do it by gut instinct and knowing what I like and do not like.

However, judging a person is a whole new ball game and one that can cause psychological damage to the person involved.

Let me explain...

Have you Ever Made an Incorrect Judgement about Someone?

Did you consider the impact your decision had on them?

Why I Believe that You Shouldn't Make Judgments About People

All living things have feelings and emotions. If they have a nervous system, a spinal cord and a brain, then they can feel pain.

Have you ever stopped to think about what impact your judgement on someone else has done to them, personally?

Many of us haven't. Why should we? We're likely never to see them again. But, your judgement will stay with them for the rest of their life. This is okay if:

  • They have the right kind of temperament to deal with it.
  • Your judgement was only one amongst a few.

Let's take the first point: They have the right temperament to 'cope' with poor judgements.

What is the right temperament? There is no easy answer to this. But, if that person is able to continually bounce back and get on with their lives without lasting damage, then you have gotten away with it. However, many of us don't have that kind of mentality, me included. We are unable to shake off this view that we are disliked, are worthless and, in turn, we can start to believe what others say about us. We may think we are different or even know, but that view can change. If you are continually told you are wrong or moody, eventually you'll start to believe that.

The consequence of this is a shattered self-esteem, low self-confidence and gradually a fear of others. Does this seem extreme? Maybe, maybe not. We are all different, we perceive a situation different to what others do. Therefore, a reaction to a situation shouldn't be immediately considered 'wrong', just because it doesn't fit in with the 'norm' or the typical.

Was Your Judgement one of Many or Isolated?

No one can ever know this no matter how well you think you know the person.

  • Maybe you weren't there when these acts took place.
  • Maybe, you heard them from someone else, or heard it from another person who was there.
  • Maybe, the person involved just didn't want to talk about it and the effect it had on them.

If you make a judgement about someone you have only just met, you are effectively putting them on trial, finding them guilty of all charges and sentencing them all before you have even spoke to them. I like to think I don't make judgements on others. Whatever they have done or how they have behaved there will always be a reason for it. I may not feel comfortable in someone's presence initially but I don't let them know and I don't let my behaviour towards them reflect this.

Every day, others are making judgements about you. As an example, I have been judged, incorrectly, for decisions I have made throughout my life. I have been judged because I don't react as others think I should do. All I knew was that I did and do feel emotions. I may on the outside seem cold and indifferent but deep down, I consider myself kind and considerate. I hurt just like you.

A damaging kind of judgement is one made by others of you when all the facts are not known. This is even more poignant when those judgements are made by close family members. The very people who you believe should love and protect you no matter what.



Questions To Ask Yourself

If, when, why you have made a judgement on someone else, ask yourself these questions and consider these facts:

  1. Do you have all the facts? If you know this person only by what others have told you, what is stopping them from lying to you, making their own judgements about the person or even just playing with the truth?
  2. When this person made this decision or behaved in this way, were you actually there? Maybe you weren't and you are making your judgement by a story you heard about the event. Did you speak to the person involved? Did you find out the reasons why they made that particular decision? What do they actually feel about the decision they had to make?
  3. The judgement, as does the lie, often says more about the person giving it than it does about the person it involves. Think back about that person instead and what they are like as a person, and what, if anything, they have to gain by making that judgement, and take the heat off the judged person just this once.
  4. Find out for yourself about this judged person especially if it is a close family member. Ask questions, talk to them, find out the reasons why they acted this way. If you still don't approve of their actions, move away from them and think more about what they have said about it to you. If you still don't approve after this, think about why. Does it make them a bad person, really? After all, they may have made the decision because they didn't believe they had a choice. It was right for them at the time. You don't know truly how they feel unless you ask.
  5. Could they have a mental illness that makes their behaviour erratic or difficult to understand? Even if you don't understand their condition, please don't persecute them. Just know that it doesn't mean they are incapable of feeling or making valid decisions. They are still human!
Updated: 06/16/2013, tinacollins
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Joyce on 06/21/2013

I love this part: "I have been judged because I don't react as others think I should do. All I knew was that I did and do feel emotions. I may on the outside seem cold and indifferent but deep down, I consider myself kind and considerate. I hurt just like you."

Here is a poem I wrote describing this, years ago before my diagnosis of BPD:


jptanabe on 06/19/2013

Being quick to judge people is generally bad. It takes time to understand people, and mostly we don't have the right to judge them at all. Of course, there are things it's good to know about people (like a disability, or an exceptional talent, or a strong like or dislike of certain things) and use this information in figuring out how best to relate to them.

Thamisgith on 06/08/2013

Good advice. It's too easy to arrive at the wrong conclusion because we don't know the full story. Even when you have all the facts (rare), why be judgemental anyway?

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