Suicide Awareness

Great expectations: How to be less judgemental

Judging others

I have a confession to make….I’m human. I try most of the time to be a nice, kind and friendly sort of human, but on more occasions than I care for, I can be judgemental. I can judge people on face value, and without really knowing them. I think we all can.

It’s a sad and unavoidable fact friends, but something we would all benefit from being more mindful of, particularly in a month that marks Suicide Prevention awareness. Being from country Victoria, I feel like judgements can seem harsh and more intense in smaller towns where people know each other. The microscope lens can feel a little hotter, we can feel the burn.

On a recent weekend visiting back home, I had a pleasantly unexpected experience in a country pub with my folks and the dad and uncle of a guy I know, and have previously judged. I thought he was a gossip and kind of arrogant and shallow. On this particular night, however, I was privy to more of an insight into this persons life. I found his dad lovely, and snort laughed at his uncles jokes…twice. I also learnt more about this persons personal life that made me realise, he was just like me, and that everyone has stuff they have to deal with.

I myself am not overly fond of being judged by others, but alas, it happens.

Besides the obvious reason we should judge less (cos it’s mean according to my 10 year old housemate), it also makes you feel worse about yourself and see the world more negatively. In addition, it’s counterproductive! If you are judging someone poorly in a team environment such as the workplace, you are far less likely to work well together and get good stuff done. Just cos Barry in Finance breaths too heavy in the lift, doesn’t mean he won’t kick ass when you need him to… know what, I’m not even gonna pretend to know what Barry in Finance does. Numbers are lost on me. Barry’s your guy for anything numbers related.

Whats more, being less judgemental lowers blood pressure, increases creativity and improves your mood and self-esteem. So drop the judgements Judy!

My call to action to you is to try, even just for a few days to spend a little less time judging and a little more time bludging… not really….spend more time doing great stuff.

Six ways to judge less and connect more

1. Don’t be too hard on yourself   

Firstly, recognise it’s human nature to judge others. I’m sure even the Dalai Lama wonders whether Mariah and Jimmy P will last. Back in the caveman days, we needed our fight or flight response to judge situations in order to literally stay alive. Good judgement was no doubt imperative when face to face with a saber-tooth tiger whilst choosing which shade of rock to furnish the cave.

2. Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Before you go to judge someone, or react to a situation, try and catch yourself first. Check in with your own mood, and see if you can see things from the other persons perspective.  Is it possible you might be judging an action/behaviour you’ve done yourself in the past? Judgement is a natural first instinct, but getting in the habit of pausing can be a very good thing. It’s too late once you’ve sent that reactive text/email/obscene snapchat

3. Find the common ground

In the words of the talented homegrown musician, Ben Lee, “we’re all in this together”. He makes a very good point in that “I’m made of atoms, and you’re made of atoms”. Nice one Ben. I love a good solid science-based lyric! We are all human and made of the same stuff and, being human, we can all make mistakes. I often try and remember that the other person is just like me, they have a family, loved ones, folks who bought them into the world.

4. Give people the benefit of the doubt 

When someone does something we may not necessarily like or agree with, 99.9% of the time, it’s not about us. They may be struggling with something themselves, or going through something painful.  You’ve heard the quote – “Don’t judge people. You never know what battle they are fighting” (author unknown). Everybody has their own stuff going on behind closed doors.

5. Let go of pride

This one is a toughy! I happen to like my pride, I’m super attached to it and stuff. Pride, however, can further wedge the divide, make it difficult to empathise with the other person and see things from their perspective. If you notice your pride’s on steroids, take a deep breath, suck it in, and while you’re at it, let it go.

6. Cultivate compassion

Not just for others, but for yourself too. Ever heard the phrase, when you judge others, you’re really judging yourself? What is it you’re not overly fond of in yourself? If you feel good about you, you’re less likely to judge others.

I’m sure we’ve all received an unfair review at one point or another. But the bottom line is, you can’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides. You never really know what other people are going through. You also never know when someone will surprise you. No opinion is final. What a better world we would live in if we all gave others the benefit of the doubt.