How to stop judging others critically

How to stop judging others critically

I looked up the definition of “judgment” after writing my last column and I probably should have clarified the difference better between good judgment and poor or bad judgment. Merriam-Webster defines “judgment” as “an opinion or decision that is based on careful thought. The act or process of forming an opinion or making a decision after careful thought. The act of judging something or someone. The ability to make good decisions about what should be done.” That “careful thought” stuff is what clouds up the picture for all of us.

If we judge someone else for his or her actions, or lack thereof, there usually isn’t a lot of careful thought that precedes our decision. We think more of the careful thought as taking place in a legal surrounding, a courtroom filled with our peers, and hopefully, a very good attorney. And we hope the judge leans toward our way of thinking or of acting, as the case may be.

Without beating a very dead horse here, let me be clear when writing about judgment. I am thinking primarily of jumping to conclusions, hearing only part of a story or a few of the facts, and making a quick decision that is hurtful to someone else.

I heard someone say the other day that some folks must be so tired at the end of the day from jumping to conclusions. That may be true.

If we realize we are judging others unfairly, surely our hearts and minds are turned toward stopping the habit, and heaven forbid, not letting our children see us pattern that behavior in our homes or our employees seeing the boss react judgmentally to everything presented to him or her. I am a firm believer in the fact that we must model the behavior we want to see emulated by those around us.

How can we realize we are judging without merit? When we begin to feel irritated or angry with another person, we just might be judging. Are we dismissing them or their ideas because we simply do not like them? Or could it be that they are not like us or that their idea is way better than our own? Do they have a plan and we don’t? Are they succeeding and we are not? Are they happier than we are at the moment?

If we catch ourselves standing around in the break room, or even the church foyer, gossiping about someone else, are we judging or do we know the exact facts about which we speak? Let’s learn to ask ourselves, “Are we judging this person fairly, and do we have all of the facts?” Are we expecting something totally unrealistic from this person? Or better yet, let’s ask what this person might be experiencing that might cause them to act in a certain manner. Could we walk in his or her shoes any better or get any further down the road than he has?

And the really big one is, “What could we do to help this person if our hearts were truly right?” After we have asked ourselves these questions, there is just a chance that our kindness and compassion might kick in and cause us to see things in a completely different light (Jude 22).