“I have nothing personal against her, but I think she is quite unprofessional.”
That’s how I used to feel about an ex-colleague. And I wasn’t the only one. I was surrounded by people who thought the same. We were irritated by the way this girl used to work according to her own rules, yet get promoted before any of us.
When I think of it now, I think I wasted my time and energy. Why? Well, has judging her altered my life positively? If it has, I can’t recall any of these changes. I can only recall that it made me angry, irritated, and jealous. It disturbed my focus. It took my peace away. And I know that had I had put all that energy on my own work, I would have done better at my job.
For a Happier and Healthier Life, Stop Judging Others
When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.
– Earl Nightingale
Judging others, especially for things that do not concern you, only ever makes things worse. But how to avoid it? For many of us, judging is ingrained in our system. We judge everyone, from a stranger in the street, to a co-worker, to our political leaders, and usually without having all the information.
It’s admittedly not easy to suppress the urge. But if I show you how it unsettles your life, you will be more determined to flush it out of your system once and for all.
Judging others makes you lose friends
What do you look for in a good friend?
Compassion. Understanding. Support.
But your readiness to judge leads to the opposite of all these things.
I once dated a guy who my best friend thought wasn’t a good match for me. Whenever I would talk to her about him, she would subconsciously look for the negative. Eventually, I didn’t feel like sharing anything about him with her anymore, because I knew that if I told her how happy I was, she wouldn’t share in my joy. And if I told her about a little fight we’d had, she would find all the reasons in the world to try to pit me against him.
The fact was that she never tried to know more about him. She never asked any questions. She never showed any interest. And yet, she felt she had the right to judge!
This could be any of us. We judge without even thinking sometimes. And this eagerness to cast judgement builds a nasty wall between friends.
When you judge others, you can’t learn from them
Judgement is often derived from jealousy. We judge to console our mind that the person we see as competition is worse, or at least no better than us.
You might have a work colleague who is a favorite with the boss. You know they work hard. You know they deserve the attention. You might accept that. But you might still look for their flaws, and try to find the areas where you’re better than them.
“She dresses like a geek. She is a bore. She has no social life.”
But is that good for you?
Or is it better to acknowledge her strengths, and learn from her? You might be better at some things. But she is definitely better at others. So stop comparing yourself to others. You won’t gain any points for proving you are better than someone, but you can better your life by learning from others.
When you judge, you are less open to new experiences
Our opinions are often based on our past experiences. We tend to believe that what worked for us must work for others, just as what proved wrong for us must also prove the same for others. The problem is that after a few experiences, people believe they know it all and have earned the right to judge.
There is this phenomena called the Dunning-Kruger effect, where a person develops an illusory superiority in their mind. They become overconfident about their abilities and think lowly of others. The person who behaves this way is defined as cognitively biased and is considered to possess lower abilities.
Sure, your experiences equip you to offer sensible advice. You might have learned valuable lessons from them. But there are billions of people in the world, all with different experiences. And while there might be some commonalities, every experience is somewhat individual-specific.
The important part is to be humble. Think about this: if you have learnt so much from your own experiences, imagine how much more you can learn from others’?
Judging others damages your health and happiness
Still not convinced? Check this out: A study out of the University of Nebraska supported the belief that negative perceptions of others can boost narcissism and antisocial behavior. Wood said, “The simple tendency to see people negatively indicates a greater likelihood of depression and various personality disorders.”
Then just why must you?
I know it’s hard to shut down the negative voices all at once. As I said earlier, the instinct to judge is ingrained in our system. Chucking it at once is unrealistic.
So, go slowly. Make it a point to think at least once before forming an opinion of someone. Just don’t give up. Before you know it, you’ll have stopped the toxic habit in its tracks. And you’ll be a jolly positive person because of it!