“A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers.”
—H.L. Mencken, 20th Century American journalist and critic
Image from Flickr
Judging others is fundamental to being human. Consider this list of TV shows:
- Judge Judy
- The People’s Court
- Divorce Court
- Judge Mathis
- Kid’s Court
This is just a handful of the dozens of court programs over the years. If you add to this list the hundreds of shows that involve the process of judging singers, dancers, and other forms of competitions, you’ll become tired of counting.
It seems that judging others through the interpretation of the law and perhaps by our own standards of right and wrong and good and bad is fundamental to being human.
Where are you currently Judge and Jury in your personal and professional life? What standards beyond your own beliefs, opinions, and experiences do you use to guide the decisions and verdicts you hand down to those in your communities?
“Dogs bark at those they do not know.”
—Samuel Daniel, 17th Century English Poet
Image from Flickr by Toshihiro Gamo
Can you imagine people barking like dogs at people they don’t know?
In many ways, we do just that, except our bark is often silent, much like a dog whistle is to we humans.
This inner bark is often our judgement, criticism, and prejudice, showing that we are rarely open or receptive to another’s point of view, perspectives, or beliefs.
Take a look at the communities within your personal and professional worlds. What, overall, is the cost of the silent and not so silent “barking”?
Peace and a sense of unified community is hard to find, even if all signs point to things being fine on the surface.
Where would acknowledging and working on your own judgmental and critical tendencies support your cooperative and collaborative nature with those you’ve barked at in the past?
“Punishing others is punishing work.”
—John Heider, The Tao of Leadership
Image from Flickr by slgckgc
How often do you play the role of judge or jury in your personal or professional life?
How often are you on the receiving end of judgement and criticism?
What are the benefits and costs of being right and making others wrong?
In the arenas of organizational leadership, criminal justice, and even the family unit itself, punishment is rarely effective in controlling behavior, and fear is a horrible teaching strategy. It is exhausting, and sucks the life out of everyone involved.
What alternative and empowering strategies might you use to produce the behaviors and attitudes that will benefit your world?
“Every now and then go away. For when you come back to your work your judgement will be surer.”
Image from Playbuzz
Leonardo DaVinci was one of history’s best know inventors. Some of his most famous inventions include:
- The Anemometer: An instrument to measure wind speed
- The flying machine
- The helicopter
- The parachute
- The armored car
- The giant crossbow
- A more accurate clock
- The triple barrel cannon
- The self-propelled cart
- SCUBA gear
- The revolving bridge
Given DaVinci’s prolific productivity, how would his coaching help you to step away, then come back, and see your work or your life differently?
“By a small sample we may judge the whole piece.”
—Miquel de Cervantes, 16th Century Spanish Novelist
Image from blackboard blog
When was the last time you dined at a smorgasbord, buffet, or pot-luck dinner? What was your strategy to identify and determine the tastiest items available?
If you are like many people, you might take a small sampling of many items, knowing that if one bite was tasty, a bigger helping would be even more delicious.
Sometimes, however, when we only have a small sample of something such as a book, a TV show, or a person we’ve just met, we get an incomplete view. We can jump to premature and false conclusions about the entire experience or person.
Where in your personal or professional worlds is it appropriate or inappropriate to judge the whole piece by just a small sample?
“How will you measure your life?”
—Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business Professor
Today’s quote stopped me in my tracks and caused me to sit down to examine its profundity. I then watched Mr. Christensen’s TEDx Boston talk from 2012, to see what this Harvard Professor had to say.
This is a question we must all answer for ourselves, based on many factors. I looked at the personal and professional achievements that measured me against others, and more importantly, against myself. My conclusion here was that personal development and growth have always been measuring sticks for me. What became more of a priority for me was the measure of family, and the development of close, collaborative relationships. In this area, contribution and making a difference in people’s lives was paramount.
When Clayton stated, in his talk, that God does not employ accountants and statisticians, I wondered what I’d like people to say upon my passing. This caused me to set about my efforts far more intentionally, so that I might fulfill my purpose.
Explore setting up a discussion group within your personal and professional communities to ask and answer this question for yourself.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and what you discovered.
“Praise does wonders for our sense of hearing.”
—Arnold Glasgow, Psychologist
Image from Flickr by Team Omega Racing
If you’ve ever been to a loud concert, or slept next to someone who snores, you know the value of a good set of earplugs!
When we consider the difference between what people say and what others hear, we may think that some people forget to remove their earplugs when they rise in the morning.
Those little foam rubber buds may protect our ears from harsh noises, but we may also want to investigate the harsh judgements and criticism we choose to hear or block out.
How would more praise and acknowledgement improve our ability to listen, hear, and relate to one another?
“You don’t need to create a masterpiece every day. You need to get some oil on the canvas every day.”
—Brendon Burchard, American Motivational Author
Image from craftsy.com
Do you have young children? Are you a grandparent? Do you have little ones as part of your world on a daily basis? If so, consider their artistic efforts with crayons, markers, and paints. Recall a time when their masterpieces took a prominent spot on your walls or refrigerator. Their efforts were cherished and celebrated for whatever images made it on those canvases.
Unfortunately, as adults we often become judge and jury for our own efforts and those of others, making excellence or perfection the only worthy goal.
Where and in what ways can you more fully appreciate and recognize your efforts, and those of others, to get some oil on the canvas every day?
“You can’t judge my choices without understanding my reasons.”
Without question, judging others and being critical is one of the most common reasons people give when they talk about unsatisfying or destructive relationships.
Unfortunately, this happens daily to some degree, to most of us. A key reason for the universality of this behavior is our constant filtering. We look at the choices of others through our own perception of what is right or wrong, good or bad.
Being genuinely interested in another person’s points of view and seeking to fully understand their perspective lessens the level of judgement and creates greater relationship harmony.
Try this four-step exercise when interacting with others, to assist you in taking greater responsibility for making your relationships stronger.
- Be aware of your internal voice when listening to others, and notice if this voice is supportive or critical.
- Examine your listening. Can you mirror what the other person said and meant?
- Ask yourself: What is good and valuable in what they are saying?
- Limit your interruptions to those questions that will give you greater clarity and understanding.