When we judge someone we apply a label to them that is very hard for them to remove. If we judge someone to be a poor manager, for example, then we will interpret everything they do in the light of that belief. Our judgments are often ill informed—or at least under-informed—and we naturally fill in the gaps in the information we have using our prejudices (‘pre-judgements’) and beliefs to guide us.
In our eyes, the person stays stuck in the place where we have judged them. Whether or not they subsequently change, we don’t allow our perception of them to change.
So, in judging someone, we separate ourselves from them, making ourselves better—or worse—than them.
It isn’t possible to see in someone else a characteristic or trait we cannot see in ourselves. Of course, we may not currently we aware of some of our traits. Typically, what can happen is that we were criticised in the past for something and, rather than confront whatever it was that caused us to behave or be that way, we repress it. We forget it. But it is still there is our subconscious mind.
So, where we judge somebody at work, for example, what we judge has to be something we have judged in ourselves. Projection is in play. If you think your boss is impatient, unreliable, uncaring or just a total idiot then it is important to look at the times where you have seen yourself to be like this and, importantly, if you think “oh, I could never be like that!”, to be curious about whether, in fact, it is only too likely that you could be.
On one hand, if we feel better than someone, we may draw the (perhaps unrecognised) conclusion that we will have to carry that person or that we will, in some way, be held back by them. We will certainly believe that they are, in some sense, a ‘bad’ person, and that we are right to ignore them, or whatever. This will lead us to feel resentful and that we are having to make a sacrifice. This resentment will cause us to separate further from the other and, because it is something else ‘wrong’ about them, a vicious circle will set in.
On the other hand, if we place someone else above us, we will feel that our own contribution is not valuable. This means our creative input will be lost, our participation will be limited and we will miss the rewards of any success.
As discussed above, anywhere we have judged something about ourselves (that is, we have negative concepts of ourselves) and are not consciously aware of having done so, we will automatically project the same judgment onto the people around us, rather than accept that the judgment is true of ourselves.
Judgment keeps us separate from those we judge. In seeing them as wrong, we lose the learning opportunity and the creative opportunity that the relationship offers.
Judgment starts power struggles. If we were to be totally free of judgments then we would respond to those around us with compassion—or at least in an adult way. We would see those behaviours or characteristics that can give rise to judgment of the other person simply as a call to help them. In a context which is supposedly free of personal associations this is both appropriate and necessary. It leads to greater cohesiveness in our business relationships.
by Jeremy Marchant, with thanks to Jeff Allen and Ian Haugh for content . © 2007 Jeremy Marchant Limited . upload 12 june 2015 . image: Free images