I didn’t recognize my neighbor when I ran into him at our community picnic. He had grown a beard, looked like he had lost weight, and wasn’t wearing his usual custom tailored ensemble. I could sense he was uncomfortable when my husband and I approached him.
As my husband commented on his beard, my neighbor took on a defensive body stance and roared, “YES, everyone in this neighborhood judges.”
He was correct. He was being judged. We all judge.
We aren’t honest with ourselves if we don’t admit we judge. Whether we believe we are too enlightened or aren’t consciously aware of judging others, we judge.
We are human. Judging others is part of our survival instincts. It happens within 7 seconds of meeting someone.
We don’t intend to do it. It is accidental, unintentional, and subtle. The mind looks for relatedness. Whether others are ‘in’ or ‘out’ of a social group; When someone is a friend or foe; If someone is part of our tribe. We feel safe when we can relate to someone.
The body generates a threat response when it doesn’t feel socially safe. It releases neurochemicals such as cortisol, testosterone, and norepinephrine to prepare you for a negative encounter. This is why some people are uncomfortable with parties and networking events.
Walking into a room where you don’t know anyone can be intimidating. You feel raw, insecure, and vulnerable. Your brain chemistry stays in protective and distrust mode, instead of opening yourself up to possibilities. It is here where communication becomes superficial dialogue, instead of authentic connection.
Judgment limits our potential as human beings. Even though it is part of our biology, we need to get beyond its limitations to increase trust, engagement, and communication.
I have used the following techniques with my clients to get beyond judgment and explore the potential of our differences.
Accept it’s Human
We can articulate how we feel, “I’m angry,” “I’m frustrated,” “I am uncomfortable,” but usually we don’t know why. You can alleviate your suffering by understanding and accepting it is within our biology. The human brain is wired for survival and judgment. You can understand it instead of fighting it.
Look to Connect
Don’t allow judgment to prevent you from connecting. When we ask discovery questions, we open up the brain for connection. When we feel we are connecting the brain down-regulates the neurochemistry of distrust, and up-regulates the neurochemistry of trust. Try asking someone, “What would you do if you couldn’t fail?” or “What are your aspirations?”
Evaluate Hidden Biases
Judgment reveals our hidden biases. Many studies show a link between hidden biases and actual behavior. This can appear when one excludes, harasses, or withholds communication. Evaluate your beliefs about certain stereotypes and prejudices.
Ask yourself, “What is it about this person that triggers me?” When we can identify our triggers, we bring awareness to our consciousness. We can, therefore, better understand our beliefs and patterns.
Detach, detach, detach
Our ego likes to attach to drama. When you are conscious of your judgment of another, or their situation, detach yourself emotionally and seek to understand why you feel the need to judge. Attaching to judgment requires a lot of energy. Stop this energy draining pattern by creating awareness.
Human beings will never stop judging. Judging doesn’t make someone bad. Even though it is part of our biology, don’t allow it to hold you back from connecting and expanding. Understanding and navigating judgement can create profound change, collaboration, and growth.
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