Deepak --

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How can we avoid, or limit ourselves from being Judgmental?

I know that its not easy, to assume certain things about others when we're afraid to either ask them directly or stop ourselves from making an assumption. I want to find out from TED community, out of curiosity and self learning, how would one go about becoming better at not being overly presumptive, and Judgmental. My main reason for asking this question is primarily due to the fact that, its not a good habit, and we can! make wrong assumptions if we allow ourselves.


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      Jun 7 2012: Hello Kate,
      Its not an everyday thing that we find courage to do something out of our comfort zone. I just wanted to thank you for sharing such a story. :)
      I am one of those that will keep most of it within me, and start assuming things, which usually (and you might know very well) leads to a self built dead-end. I agree that's its a life long process, and I think I've been getting better at it even, because just as you mentioned that now-a-days if something seems off or questionable (judgement wise) then you simply say "so what?". I mean if you're really curious then be courageous and take that leap of trust (within yourself) and confront the person about whatever it is that you dont understand, I guess the worst that can happen is the person just ignores you or dose not want to talk to you, in that case we can be happy knowing that we Tried.....

      I also like the fact that you mentioned, about how the relationship might not go anywhere really, but the few seconds of smile the person experienced in your company, and you doing this as a rare occasion really points out to the improvement of your self-awareness and the ability to break that "what if".

      I learned alot, Thank You.
      as a curiosity question, how different would you be in front of strangers compared to your boss (not at the highest level but someone who is hierarchy of you)? Would you be as open (compared to strangers), or would you have reached your comfort-zone, the limit of judgement?

      Thanks again....

      The elephant's in India. Imagine an Elephant on a highway here in U.S, becausse that's exactly where I found this big guy walking (on a Highway...=D)
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    Jun 14 2012: Deepak,
    We can remind ourselves that by being judgmental, we are denying ourselves information. When we assume something about someone, or judge a person based on what we think we know about him/her, we are often missing part of the information that would allow us to really know that person better. A judgment is often a label or catagory which we give others or ouselves. Once we have made that judgment, there is not much room in the interaction to learn anything more. We deny ourselves an opportunity, and that doesn't make any sense to me!
  • Jun 14 2012: I agree with Brian that understand psychology is an important contributor.

    I also think that existential philosophy can play a significant part.

    The act of judgement comes with an assumption of will and control which may not exist.

    What I mean is that most people assume they and those around them have free will. If they didn't make this assumption, moral judgements would be impossible since it would make as much sense as getting angry at a fire for burning your house down, fire is just a force of nature.

    While this assumption is to some extent necessary, it should still be recognised for what it is, an assumption.

    If someone breaks their leg, they are not going to be able to go for a jog, it's physically impossible for them to do so.

    If someone commits a murder, it's entirely possible that the combination of their environment and their mental state left them with as little choice in their action as that person who was unable to jog.

    The glaring difference is how visibly obvious the limitations for each are. We can x-ray a broken leg but we can't know how and what a person thinks and feels.

    I would argue both that ultimately it is absolutely impossible to ever measure someone's ability to express a "free will" and that there are at least some circumstances in which someone's will is overridden by reality.

    Given that; giving one person the benefit of doubt by attributing their actions to mental illness and placing the burden of responsibility on another is unavoidably an expression of your own personal bias and in no way a representation of truth.

    Moral judgement itself is the act of building your own personal unfounded biases.
  • Jun 14 2012: Hey Deepak, I believe It all boils down to humility and understanding. I love psychology because it has allowed for me to understand people in a more concise way. With this understanding comes forgiveness as well as compassion. How does this tie into the judging of others? It directly correlates because when I judge somebody which I of course do and always will do it is usually based in arrogance and misunderstanding. We judge people based on evolutionary purposes that allow for safety and reproduction. We all have tribes we belong to based on how we look, behave, and think. Some tribes are smaller than others. Either way we judge those who we cannot understand or who we deem as inferior or foolish. We as humans also tend to rely on patterns based off of past experiences and tend to group certain people instantaneously who seem to represent certain tribes. Although some of our assumptions about people turn out to be true it is a common error to overgeneralize.

    So how do we change this? I say we change this by understanding others and being self aware when we are judging. I also find that when i am being open minded towards another i find that i have much in common with them. After stripping down the surface layer, people are very much the same, we all feel the same emotions and share similar experiences.

    i also find when I retard the judgements of others I am not so hard on myself. This helps with depression and other problems that come about when you keep your standards far to high for yourself. This allows for the superego to not be quite as harsh when it puts you in your place. When I stay humble and grounded I don't need to judge because I'm no better or worse than the next man or women. Im not saying you should keep your standards low for yourself and others, my point is to do your best to understand and sympathize when dealing with you or anyone else.

    Good topic

  • Jun 8 2012: Hello Deepak.

    I do not think we can avoid making judgments about people. It is in our nature, and it is necessary to decide with whom we want to associate.

    Since we all make judgments, on what basis should we judge? Certainly not on trivialities like dress or hair style. We should also be wary of labeling people into a group that shares a specific set of qualities. Each person is an individual.

    Avoiding wrong assumptions is difficult. Most assumptions are unconscious associations we have learned from past experience. For example, when we approach an intersection and the light is green, we assume that the cross traffic will stop. These associations are necessary for everyday living, or we would be questioning everything constantly. It is important to become aware of our assumptions, particularly when dealing with people and when solving problems. When we are aware of an assumption we can question whether it is true in a particular case.

    I like to associate with people that ask good questions, like you.
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      Jun 10 2012: That is a good lesson: Reflect before you act. Its easy to forget these things, because usually we're doing it unconsciously one can only hope to be aware of it and divert it.
      Thanks much.
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    Jun 7 2012: I used to believe that everyone was born pretty much the same and that people become what they are by the choices they made. As I grew older, I realized that we are all different in many ways, not only in our own makeup, but in the experiences that shape our life.
    My brother had a classmate that used to do things that were potentially destructive. His father was a prominent businessman and we figured that he was just showing off. It wasn't until recently that we discovered he was the victim of a pedophile priest. He didn't know how to tell his father as he was afraid of what his father would do. The result is that he acted out his anger and frustration. You might be surprised at how many other hidden secrets lie behind such behaviors.

    We often judge people by how they relate to us or by how we have been taught. There are many people who are taught to judge others through differences in color, creed, nationality, etc.

    There are many who operate on herd mentality. Those who support the herd are your friends. Those who go against the herd are your enemies. Gang members are just trying to find a niche where they feel like they belong.

    I just recently read a book "The New Primal Scream" by Dr. Arthur Janov. He discovers that some people are deeply affected by birth or early childhood trauma that has never been exposed. Instead, it affects them through subconscious needs/wants that are not apparent to the individual accept through therapy.

    When you put all of this into perspective, you realize that we judge people that we really don't know. Take time to walk a mile in their shoes, and life will open up in ways that you never expected.
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      Jun 10 2012: Thanks Ray, for the providing the profound reality of being judgmental. I am honestly working very hard, and always stoping myself before saying "what if this person is like this...."....the what if's are slowly becoming "hey, so I noticed..."...
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        Jun 11 2012: Deepak,
        It is hard to stop ourselves some times from being judgmental until we have come to know the underlying truth to people's problems. The thing that I have noticed is that the people who need the help the most (those who are victims of the things I spoke about) are often the same ones who can't afford it. Thus, many become incarcerated and are given anger management or similar programs, but that doesn't solve the reason why they ended up there in the first place. Therapy isn't cheap, and those who are having problems are usually in the poverty stricken areas. I don't know what the solution is other than to keep an open mind and look for resources. Religion is often one that is affordable, but not too many ministers know how to solve the deep issues. How does a church solve the problem created by a pedophile minister when it was one of their very own that caused the problem? The Catholic church shuffled them around because they didn't want to admit that there were flaws in their own ranks. Such actions only compound or confuse the issue.

        I find that just talking to someone often reveals things that they didn't want to say out loud. Once people know that they can trust you, they are willing to talk about their problems. Also, learning to be a good listener and reading between the words allows you to see what was not apparent.

        The fact that you want to know how to be less judgmental of people says a lot about you. I hope I have given you positive food for thought.
        Regards and good luck.
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    Jun 7 2012: Deepak, Perhaps the trick is not to avoid or limit being judgmental ... Perhaps we should work to realize what we are judgmental about and why. Only when we openly recognize that we have a problem can we truely begin to work to correct the problem. So accept it, embrace it, and do a check and balance with your emotions and judgments.

    Many of our bad habits / thoughts are from our culture or through our parents / family. When we discover that the problem is really Dads not mine it is easier to defeat.

    I'm not for sure it will ever go away and I don't think it should. It should be the basis of growth and personal discovery.

    All the best. Bob