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  1. Anthony Tornatore
    Anthony Tornatore December 29, 2013 at 7:17 pm |

    Very nice piece. The critical element here is one you touched on towards the end. The “how do you react?” part. To me, this is what decides whether being “judgmental” is good or bad. As you alluded it, it is human nature to judge. Our brains are conditioned to gather information, process it, and draw conclusions. It’s not a flaw, but just us progressing through a thought process. If we distill this down, I think you can make the process into those three step plus react. The first two are neutral acts. Forming a conclusion is the first area where any sort of negativity can enter the process.

    It’s here I’d say that attitude is important. I will pass judgment on people, but it tends to be positive. I think far fewer people would have issues with society judging others if the judgment is positive. Then, as you said, if you do come to a negative conclusion, how you react is the next step. For someone to be deemed what the general population would typically call “judgmental”, you really have to be negative on both steps.

    Going back to the gathering of information, this is another area that people can look to improve. This is what you do very well; for some people, gathering information consists of *looks at shoes* and stops there. The more information you gather, the more you can assess, and the easier it is to come to a more objective, well thought out conclusion.

    So all this is interesting, but if the goal is to try and eliminate stigma, how do you do it? To some extent, it is just on the individual. Any sort of insecurities that need to be reconciled aren’t really things that we can change. Here is what I feel I (and others) can do, though. Give people more information to gather. I can use myself as an example. I am a male that works in a very traditionally conservative industry, and I have long hair. Right off the bat, people are going to judge me because of this, and it could be a handicap for me. But what if I proactively try to show them they’re wrong in the limited time we might have together? I can be very professional with my actions. I can be assertive in a meeting and demonstrate that I am competent. I can make eye contact. These are all things I can control, and if I do that, I give people more information to process to form their opinions of me. And the opinion could change from “he’s not very professional” to “this guy’s pretty intelligent and creative; his hair might not be what I consider professional, but maybe he’s wired a little differently, and that is what gives him his unique thought process in addressing business issues”. Even one little thing can make all the difference. Think about a “goth” walking down the street and crossing paths with another “normal” person. In one scenario the “goth” avoids eye contact and strolls along, in the other he makes eye contact and smiles or says hello. In the latter situation, you at least give the “normal” person the opportunity to see something more than just the clothes. We just have to take those opportunities when we get them 🙂