Is it possible not to judge

Posted on March 11, 2016

By Kirsten Long

The answer is NO.

It is impossible not to judge. We do it unconsciously all day every day. The process is instantaneous and usually unconscious. We are not even aware that we are judging.

Let’s look at how this happens:

  • An event occurs (someone does or says something)
  • We compare the event to our standards for how the world is supposed to be. We arrive at a positive or a negative assessment – they event is OK or its NOT OK.
  • We experience an emotion that matches our assessment/ judgement.
  • We act out according to the emotion we experienced.

The first three steps happen almost instantaneously. We have very little, if any, control over this process.

Often step 4 will occur without much consideration on our part unless we are quite advanced in managing our emotions and reactions.

So when someone says “I am not judging you” what they actually mean is they are going to carefully choose how they react to the judgement they have made of you.

What are the benefits of being non-judgmental?

Harsh judgements destroy relationships. Coming across as non-judgmental helps build relationships and contributes to solving problems.

Think about it – if you feel judged by someone, you will go into defense mode, attack mode or withdrawal mode. None of these are actually constructive.

This is why its important to be able to come across as non-judgmental.

There’s no one better than kids to teach you these lessons, don’t you agree? In my experience, coming across as non-judgmental works way better when dealing with kids.

This doesn’t mean the judgements don’t happen. When one of my kids tell me about the parties and fun they had on a weekend, my judgement is that they should be doing varsity work rather. I could nag and yell at them but I know this will be destructive. I choose to tell them I’m happy they are having fun. The amazing things is they get their work done and achieve good results at varsity.

How can you come across as NON-judgmental?

First – be aware of your judgement. Start noticing your assessments of situations and the matching emotions that you experience.

Second – choose how you react in response to your judgement. Put some space between the event and your reaction to give yourself some thinking-time. Are your standards in this situation appropriate? Are your standards in this case non-negotiable or can you bring some flexibility into the picture. How can you react in a way that is constructive rather than destructive? Understand that the other person may have a different set of standards to you. What do you want to achieve by your response to the situation?

Third – watch your language. If you find the event unacceptable, express this by saying “I feel really upset by that behavior because … ” rather than by saying “You are a bad person”. By taking the first option you are opening up the conversation and giving the other person space to consider their actions. The last option will shut down the conversation because the person will be feeling judged.

While it may be impossible to NOT judge, it is very possible to build strong relationships by coming across as non-judgemental.

All you have to do is be aware and practice.

Don’t judge someone just because
they sin differently to you.

Let Kirsten Long coach you


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