People have been judging each other at work since we were prehistoric hunters.
Cave Dude 1 – “What was up with Grog today?”
Cave Dude 2 – “Yeah no kidding, he was all up in our faces all day telling us what to do. Like it was our first mammoth hunt.”
Cave Dude 1 – “Seriously, who made him King Caveman?”
Cave Dude 2 – “Please, he’s the last person that should be in charge. He still thinks fire is a bad idea.”
Cave Dude 1 – “And did you see what he was wearing? Open-toed mocks on a hunt, really?”
While I wasn’t there, I know a form of that conversation probably happened, because judging others is just part of our DNA.
It is almost impossible not to do it. Even great spiritual leaders report having trouble not judging. However, it’s in our best interest to cut back. Here are a few reasons why it’s better not to judge others:
- Chances are, your judgments are wrong. You may be seeing only part of the story.
- You tend to see what you want to see in people, and miss the rest. When you have a preconceived perception of someone, you can subconsciously seek out evidence to support your position.
- Judging is the gateway to gossip. When you gossip about someone, you influence how others perceive that person.
- When you judge, you are looking at someone’s past behavior and making assumptions about their future actions. This can hinder relationship development. This is particularly true if you are supervising the person.
The best way to reduce judgment is to understand why you do it. First, finding faults in others gives us a sense of stability. Bringing people down, whether it’s a celebrity or your coworker, helps calm our own insecurities. Second, we tend to judge negative behaviors that we exhibit ourselves or behaviors we wish we could exhibit. For example, I can be very critical of those who are negative, as well as, those who are way too positive. Why? Because I’m sensitive about my own negativity and wish I could be more positive.
So when you catch yourself being judgmental, turn it around and learn from it. Ask: do I know the whole story? Am I looking for evidence to support how I want them to be? Is their behavior something that I might exhibit? Or, could I benefit from being more like them? I was working with a group this morning and I caught myself thinking that the leader was being to quiet to be effective. Then I realized that I was projecting how I would lead the team and what he was doing was actually very effective because he was backing off and letting them take ownership.
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” ~Pema Chödrön