Recently, someone was angry and texting me about the situation. My reply was: “It’s easier to care about people if we aren’t judging them.” Since then, I’ve done some serious thinking about the relationship between judgment and caring connection. Sitting in judgment of others disrupts connection and creates distance in relationships.
Interestingly, our brain is designed to do just that. It is in the business of collecting data (emotions, thoughts, physical sensations about what happens), evaluating the information available (including past experiences), and helping us decide what to do next. It is programmed to give us a quick take on what is “right or wrong” or “good or bad.” As soon as our brain has that figured out, we “know where we stand,” and we think we know “what’s going on here.” And our brain prefers for us to stand in what is familiar and comfortable.
Familiar and comfortable doesn’t allow for much growth, however. So, how can we change something that is so ingrained? What can we do INSTEAD of judging? Being a tried-and-true factfinder, I went to Google and asked, “What is the opposite of judgmental?” The words that came up included: objective, uncritical, tolerant, accepting, charitable, benevolent, forgiving.
What if we could be more of these? What if we could help our brains be less judgmental?
We then could:
- Notice how quickly we jump to conclusions.
- Catch ourselves when we are categorizing events or people (or ourselves) as “good or bad”/”right or wrong.”
- Learn from the information or feedback we are collecting from our experiences.
- Intentionally stay in conversations with a goal of discovering more about others without judging them.
Notice when judgments arise – begin to gently recognize them.
Observe and pause – find the space between noticing and judging.
Watch, listen, and learn – take in the information and shift to viewing it as “good to know.”