Yesterday I wrote about how we often judge people implicitly without realizing — often a repellent behavior — and one class of implicitly judgmental language.
The second class of implicitly judgmental language is when you make value judgments without realizing it.
Here are a few examples:
- “People on the left say X. People on the right say Y. I’m not political about it, I’m practical and I look for a practical solution.”
- “John is extreme. I prefer the middle path.”
- “Sally works too hard. She needs to balance work and life.”
- “If Jane were a real manager, she’d …”
- “I know you like to do X, but in the real world we have problems that require …”
- “The reality of the situation is that…”
- “The truth of the matter is…”
- “You have to look at the facts and the facts are clear.”
Do you sense the judgment implicit in each of these statements? The language can be persuasive, motivating you to use it more, but at the risk of repelling people. If you want to win friends and influence people, using them may hurt you in the long run.
Let me highlight the judgment. I’ll pick example — the “balance” quote — but the analysis applies to them all.
When someone balances something, what are they balancing? Their own conflicting values. Everyone has values that conflict. You like to eat sweets but you also like to be in shape. You like to buy things but you also like to save money. You value earning money but you also like having fun with friends.
Every day we face and resolve conflicts between different values. We do so based on our relative evaluations of them. How you value each value relative to the others is a lot of who you are, what makes you unique, what makes you you. You don’t have to answer to anyone for your values or relative evaluation of them.
The results of our relative evaluations are the choices we make, which results in our lifestyles, choices of environments, friends, beliefs, behaviors, and so on. Okay, have I convinced you the stakes are high?
What you call “balance” is your relative evaluation of your values. When you criticize someone else’s choice of balance — say the number of hours a day Sally works — you are implying your values are more valid or better than someone else’s. You are judging the core of who they are.
Yes, this point is subtle, but it’s there. Criticize someone’s judgment once or even a few times and they may not notice. Criticize it enough and they’ll react, even if they don’t realize why. You’ll repel them.
The words you choose reveal the judgment in your thoughts (which is the heart of how to change your behavior). See if you can find the judgmental words in the other examples.
In the examples above the following words imply judgment
- Practical — What one person considers practical is what balances their conflicting values. Since everyone’s values are unique, everyone’s evaluation for what’s practical is unique. For example, for two people taking the same trip, for one person walking may be practical, for another a subway, for another a taxi, for another a private car, for another a chauffeured luxury car.
- Middle — What’s in the middle depends on what you call left and right. Again, these are your values. Karl Rove’s perspective on what’s to the left or right is different than Ralph Nader’s. To imply another should accept your perspective is to impose your values on them.
- Balance — We covered that term.
- Real — In a world complex beyond what any one person can comprehend, we all have limited perception and therefore understanding of reality. What we each call reality is our perception. Everyone has a unique perception. To say yours is more valid than someone else’s imposes on them. Most of the time we agree on what’s real, but not always. For example, some people believe a god is the foundation of reality, some believe many gods are, some people believe none.
- Reality — the same as real.
- Truth — What you consider true is what is consistent with your understanding of reality. If we all have different ideas of reality, we all have different truths. Again, most of the time we agree, but not always. The judicial system is based on people having different truths and finding ways to resolve them.
- Facts — We all observe different things and value our observations differently, therefore what observations we consider factual or relevant differ.
Tomorrow I’ll cover exercises to decrease your level of being judgmental, or to increase your level of nonjudgmental acceptance, an attractive quality.
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