Why do we judge and make assumptions of others?
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Whether it’s an innate trait or something we’ve learned, we can’t deny that we all judge one another. We create an instant opinion of someone just by looking at them. That first impression will determine our thoughts about someone until proven otherwise. It’s not that we’re trying to be judgmental, we’re simply determining if we accept this person. If they will fit into our understanding of the world.
These initial judgments are focused solely on a person’s exterior, and as we know, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. In today’s world we know how toxic and detrimental certain judgments can be, yet we still make and take them. Whether it’s gender, race, or orientation, many of us live in fear that these external judgments -which have nothing to do with who we truly are inside- will negatively impact or jeopardize our lives.
There’s no immediate fix that will undo all of the stereotypes and oppressive institutions. Sadly they exist on a level much larger than us. Judgement’s been bred into society since its existence because we fear the unknown, thus those that differ from us. But instead of giving our power away and waiting for institutions to fix society, we could just decide to stop judging one another, now. We should attempt to communicate and resolve our differences by asking each other, “Why?”.
If we can learn to prevent our initial judgments from influencing us and try to get to know people instead, then we’ll be one step closer to actually understanding them. So it’s important to become actively aware of our internal judgments and assumptions. Throughout any conversation, whether it’s with a stranger, acquaintance, or a loved one, it’s common that we don’t really listen to what they’re saying. Instead we’re already preparing our answer or comeback. Even worse, we immediately assume the worst intention or think they’re putting us down, so we preemptively “push back”.
When we make judgments about what others are thinking we’re putting ourselves in their mind. We assume they must think that way because of our experiences and how we instinctively think. In reality we have no idea what’s going on in their mind. When we know someone well enough we can observe their body language to see if something’s bothering them. Yet, we still don’t have the authority to assume exactly what they’re thinking or feeling.
At the end of the day, living in our assumptive mind will only bring us pain. Whether we agree with someone or not, when we think we know their answer we aren’t truly listening to them or letting them speak their mind. Thus we’ll never know their truth and be forced to live in the lies made by our mind.
So when we listen and allow others to speak their beliefs, it’s imperative that we allow for open communication. In order to fully understand someone’s point of view we should utilize the question, “Why?”. It shows that we’re listening, we’re open to discussing it, and we want to know their thoughts. At the same time it makes them question why they believe it.
We’ll only have productive conversations once both sides are stated and equally represented. Then we can really get to know others for who they genuinely are without jumping to our own conclusions.
Practices & Motivations