I really like this definition of judgment I got from dictionary.com: “the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion.” Judgment is actually pretty necessary to get on in life. It’s how we decide if a place, situation, or person is safe. It’s how we decide which course we want to take. It’s how we decide whether or not we like an experience or want to repeat it or not. There are a lot of good and necessary reasons to judge. Not every person is going to make a good friend or relationship partner for us. This requires judgment.
When you can see how a person, event, experience, etc., is affecting your own life, you may judge it best to include, exclude, or change whatever it is that’s affecting your life. There are times when a person is not safe to be around. There are times when a relationship might have a toxic effect on one or both parties. For this discussion, we’re going to set these fairly rare occasions aside in their own category and focus on more typical interactions.
You see: judgement, real judgment, sound judgment, requires information. As my professor, Dean Madsen, once said, “Never pass judgment until you have a chance to develop understanding.” I would say that a hasty judgment is not really a judgment at all, but simply jumping to conclusions.
But “judgment” is nowadays usually associated with a negative attitude or action. Basically, when someone judges (hastily), they’re assuming that they know all about someone based only on a first impression. Sometimes it’s based on a first glance. Sometimes it’s based on someone else’s first impression. Sometimes it’s based on the person’s mood upon first meeting or on a single attribute such as height, weight, skin color or gender. Sometimes it’s not even based on that person at all but on someone else who shares one of that person’s attributes.
This is the type of judgment to avoid. I really don’t know what else I can say about it. Don’t do it.
But it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s very, very easy to slip into “judgment mode” automatically. I’ve found myself assuming things about people based on, say, the way they talk or how much eye contact they make. I think it’s a natural thing to do because we sometimes need to judge situations (for safety, for instance) very quickly. So, once we’ve judged that a person and/or situation is safe, we can simply LET GO of “judgment mode.” Then we can start looking for who that person really is instead of how we think they are.
It’s amazing what you can find out.
It’s amazing what kinds of relationships can be formed.
And it’s amazing to find out how great (and amazing) some people are.