Many people are quick to say they don’t judge. People seem to value not judging others. Come to think of it, I do.
People all too commonly say they aren’t judgmental when someone else is judgmental about something they aren’t. For example, when one person says “Americans are too fat,” the other may say “Don’t be so judgmental” or, more mildly, “I’m not so judgmental.”
It’s all too common because it’s easy to say you don’t judge when talking about other people’s values that you don’t share. It’s more difficult when talking about your values. That is, a person who is live-and-let-live about things they don’t care about may get incensed or enraged about things that do matter to them. If they think their thing is important not because it’s their opinion but because they think absolute reality backs them up, they may never see the contradiction and even dig themselves in that much deeper.
For the past year or so I’ve found a few words — more precisely, the concepts they represent — to be un- orÂ counter-productive in most uses: right, wrong, good, bad, and evil. They are difficult to use without implying judgment — in particular, judgment based on an absolute standard. Not using the words forces you to clarify your meaning, recognize that you are judging, and clarify the basis of your judgment.
For example, instead of saying “that’s a good movie” you might say “I liked that movie.” The first way, someone can object to because you’re implying something absolute about a matter of taste. The second way shifts the attention to yourself. Any judgment or evaluation is based on your personal taste. People may not share your tastes, but few will argue that you aren’t allowed your tastes.
Try not using the words for a week or month.
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