The events in Paris last week saw one of the most extreme forms of judgement possible. People with a belief in something so strong that they chose to judge those who believed differently, and end their lives so they couldn’t believe it anymore.
There’s been enough coverage on this topic that I don’t want to use this post to explore it further. But what I do want to talk about is the fact that we are surrounded by judgement all day every day and we don’t even notice it.
We judge things as good or bad, right or wrong, for pretty much every waking moment.
We judge others for having too much money, and for not having enough.
We judge others for being beautiful, and for not being beautiful enough.
We judge others for doing their job well, and for not doing it well enough.
And we judge ourselves for being ‘good enough’ or not.
So often we attach negative meaning, have negative beliefs, make negative judgements about people or situations. And yet most of what we see of people is 10% of who they really are. Most of who they are is beneath the surface, possibly so far down that they aren’t even aware of it themselves.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama
Here are a few real life recent examples of how judgement of others affects how we feel and how we then behave…….
I read a Harvard Business Review email saying that managers who are morning people are more likely to believe someone’s work performance is below standard if that person’s requested, and works, a later working day – because they believe the person’s lazy.
Somewhere in the past of those managers you can hear their parents shouting…. ‘John! Get up now. You shouldn’t be so lazy! Half the day’s gone already!’. Engraining that belief in their mind that lying in = lazy. By the way, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my mum at this point for engraining early starts in me by using the vacuum cleaner early on a Saturday!
But back to the ‘lazy’ staff. Is it true that everyone you’ve ever met who enjoys a lie in is lazy – all day. Every day? You might be hard-pressed to prove that to be true. And, assuming it’s not, then someone who works a later day isn’t lazy, they’re actually really smart to do their work when they’re most productive.
Then I read an article at the weekend which highlighted how children don’t attach meaning to things that we do as adults – well, not unless they’ve been taught a meaning by an adult. This article was about a mum who died of cancer at Christmas. In fact on Christmas Day. In the preceding months her bodily functions were giving up on her so she had a colostomy bag. Her 5 year old twin boys observed the fact that ‘mummy can poo into a bag’ with interest. As an adult, our immediate reaction is probably something like ‘how awful, poor woman, how undignified’. But we only believe that because of our parents, our teachers, our experiences, our interactions, society’s rules. It’s these which cause us to assign meaning, and label that situation as ‘bad’.
What if it wasn’t all those things. What if it was just a fact that this person needs that treatment to continue to live a vaguely normal life – well, that’s pretty good. Isn’t it?
I had a similar thought when I saw a recent headline: “NHS Collapsing: Patients taken to hospital in fire engines”. (By the way, you can rely on the media for negative judgement – daily.)
I don’t know the ins and outs of the latest crisis with ambulances but I do know that, for the fire service to be helping out, things must be tough – in some instances, for some hospitals at least. Reading that headline gives us choices in how we see that situation. We can join the crowds and bemoan the state of the NHS, heaping more criticism onto an organisation full of people who work hard every day to take care of us and who, like most of us, are doing the best they can with what they’ve got.
Or we can celebrate the brilliant team mentality of the fire service to get stuck in and help out. I’m pretty sure that if I needed urgent medical attention I’d rather get to hospital in a fire engine than go without any care.
I don’t believe that we could ever remove all unhelpful judgement from every situation but I reckon we can begin walking in that direction. We can start to notice when we’re judging, and practice spotting the good in a situation, or in a person. We can be more kind.
I believe in people being the key to success and that success is unlocked by great bosses. And being a boss is a tough job.
If you believe in this stuff too, get in touch for a chat and let’s see what we could do together – 07718 316 616 or firstname.lastname@example.org or take a look at my website to find out more.
Executive Coaching and Development for SME leaders –
creating success for you, for your team, for your business.