Judging doesn’t annoy people. Imposing values on others does.
Nobody likes being judged them without asking for it, right?
On the contrary…
Mere judging isn’t the issue. People judge all the time without annoying people. There’s a nuance there and knowing it will change how you judge yourself and communicate to others. In particular you’ll
- Feel less guilt
- Communicate more clearly
- Provoke fewer arguments
- Influence more effectively.
People don’t have a problem with someone judging them. The other person has to express their judgment for you even to know about it.
People don’t even have problems with someone expressing their judgment of them. People with different values can get along. In fact, since no two people have exactly the same values, all people who get along get along despite having different values, which means they necessarily judge each other.
I’ve concluded that people have problems with others trying to impose their values on them—that is, implying you have to accept their values—not with judgment alone.
Example: Someone looking down on you
Say someone looks down on you for something you feel they have no right to judge you on—how you talk, how you dress, your skin color, your gender, whatever—and you don’t like it. Most people say they don’t like that the other person judged them.
The judgment wasn’t the problem. Judgment happens in that person’s head. It only affects you in how they communicate their judgment.
You can express your judgment many ways. You can keep it to yourself, you can express it openly, and so on. If you imply they have to accept your values, they’ll push back. If you don’t, they won’t either.
Consequence #1: You feel less guilty
Everyone has values, meaning everyone judges others all the time. After you’ve worked with enough people who shared their inner monologue from the exercise in this post “The most effective self-awareness exercise I know of“, you see that everyone thinks they judge more than everyone else and they feel guilty about it. They don’t judge more, they just have access to their judgmental thoughts but not everyone else’s.
Once you know you can accept that all humans judge each other, including you, you’ll find yourself feeling a lot less guilt.
Consequence #2: You can express yourself more clearly and without offending
I know many people with opposing political views. We mutually consider the other wrong—that is, we judge each other—but we get along.
Why? Because we don’t imply the other has to agree.
Also, instead of telling someone you think less of them, that you consider them wrong, or some other final judgment, you realize you can communicate your values without evoking their ire. You can instead tell them the consequences of their actions, like “By showing up late you made me miss my next meeting. I counted on you showing up on time.” No judgment, and the person understands you.
Consequence #3: You provoke fewer arguments
Implying someone should accept your values leads them to defend theirs. If you get in a lot of arguments where you feel you’re right and they’re wrong, I suggest looking at how you communicate your values when they differ with others’.
Consequence #4: You’ll influence others more effectively
Provoking defensiveness in others means you lead them to resist your influence.
Not trying to impose your values on them does the opposite of making them defensive. It disarms them. By making them less likely to protect themselves, they’ll more likely share their values, which opens them to listen to you.
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