Judgmental people are everywhere in life, but how do you know if you're also a judgmental person? You don't need to waste your time surrounded by negativity and judgemental behavior. Judging others does no one any good.
Everyone has at least one "hater" in their lives. That person spends their time following other people's every moves and has a comment to say about anything and everything. They never have anything nice to say, even when it's warranted. And they dwell on the negative, even when no one else around them is. That person is bored. But I find it amusing that many of us are quick to label other people as judgmental without realizing that by doing so we fall into that category ourselves! By calling out judgmental people, you're essentially being a judgmental person. It is human nature to judge others to some extent, yet even if we’re not overly sensitive, it’s upsetting when others are overly critical of us. It’s hurtful and we feel the sting in life. It never seems to be constructive. And sometimes, especially during our formative years, we can carry that hate with us and let it eat at us.
We can’t change other people, although we can certainly provide them with feedback on how we feel when we receive their harsh criticism. But we certainly can increase our awareness of our own behavior and modify our mindset so that we are less judgmental of others.
This awareness begins with understanding what it means to be judgmental. An article in Psychology Today best describes what it means to be judgmental. “Someone is being judgmental when their judgments are power-driven, unempathetic, based on their own idiosyncratic values or tastes, overly based on other people’s character, and are closed, shallow, and pessimistic, and ultimately have the consequence of making the other person feel problematically diminished”.
What are the signs that you are judgmental? Ask yourself these questions.
Do you have a negative mindset? In other words, are you a glass half empty or glass half full kind of person? People with negative outlooks are more likely to see other people in a negative light. They focus first on their faults and struggle to see their good qualities, if at all. Here’s a good test to see if you’re negative or positive. Once you recognize the negativity in yourself, you can take steps to shift to a more positive outlook with meditation, affirmations, journaling, and soliciting feedback from others.
Are you a perfectionist? As a perfectionist, you have extremely high expectations for yourself. This can contribute to you judging and berating yourself unfairly, but also others. Perfectionists tend to set unrealistic expectations for others and then criticize them for not meeting those expectations. You do enough damage to yourself with these judgments so it’s important to understand how they affect others. Adopt a more collaborative approach to goal setting with your team, family, and friends to better understand how to create realistic expectations.
Are you insecure? Your insecurity can lead you to put others down in order to make yourself feel more confident and competent. Harsh criticism puts people in their place and makes you feel superior. Keep a success journal and each day make an entry of your accomplishments. Review at the end of the week and ask yourself what this says about you. Write down positive affirmations about your talent and value and keep them visible. This will boost your self-esteem and the more confident you feel, the less judgmental you will become of yourself.
Do you have strong opinions? When you believe that your opinions, ideas, and values are always right and others are wrong, you are being judgmental. It’s challenging for you to accept other people’s point of view and therefore, you shut them down or silence them with criticism. Train yourself to have an open mind. Steven R. Covey suggests in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen before making judgments.
Do you feel the need to show others how powerful you are? Yes, this can come from insecurity, but when you only feel powerful by knocking other people down; it’s a false sense of power. Connect with your inner personal and professional power. Refrain from using power over people and empower them and yourself instead.
Harsh judgments of others make us feel powerful, smart, confident, secure, when we don’t feel that way about ourselves. We need to win at all costs. If we’re the winner, other people need to lose. Make yourself a winner instead by connecting to and owning your unique talent. Build yourself up instead of using your criticism of others to create a false sense of who you are.
When you have to deal with critics around you, nonetheless, just remember not to let others’ negativity make you to live for other people instead of for yourself and that criticism is all in your mind. No one can affect you without your own permission and, when we stop worrying what others think of us, we feel free to think bigger and pursue our dreams.
Bonnie Marcus, M.Ed, is an executive coach, author and keynote speaker focused on women's advancement in the workplace. A former corporate executive and CEO, Bonnie is the author of The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, and co-author of Lost Leaders in the Pipeline: Capitalizing on Women's Ambition to Offset the Future Leadership Shortage.