Is Judgmental Really So Bad?

Judgmental.  Nobody wants to be accused of it.  If you disagree with anyone, about anything, you might be called judgmental, which is to say, you’re hateful.  People say, “She’s so judgmental!” in the same tone of voice they’d say, “She kicks puppies!”

I don’t think of myself as mean, so this perception of judging as hate troubles me.  It’s how I end up in socially awkward conversations.

Am I judgmental?  I definitely have my own way of doing things, my own values, my own beliefs.  Can I believe what I believe without ever judging anyone else?

I don’t think I can.

Even though I don’t say anything, I really do think that if a toddler is thrashing, screaming, and throwing food in a restaurant, that their parents should not ignore them and continue their meal.  I think that poor child is tired and needs to go to bed.  I think the rest of us would like to dine in peace, even if it doesn’t bother the parents.

Does that make me judgmental?

When a young friend complains about finances, but says she really needs this trip to Hawaii, and asks me how we ever managed on one income, I’ll tell her.  When she looks downcast and tells me that I don’t understand how badly she needs a vacation, she is right.  I never considered vacation a need.

Does that make me judgmental?

I think it does.  I’m evaluating others based on my values, not theirs.  I’m being judged, too.  All the time.  When I hear, “The only reason people don’t put their children in public school is that they’re racists,” I have just been called a racist.  When I’m told, “All my educated friends kept their maiden names,” I realize that person does not consider me well educated.

I won’t recount here all the things I’ve heard over the years about adoption.  That would take several posts.  Or the assumptions about homeschoolers.  Suffice it to say, people have opinions.

But are those opinions hateful?

Sometimes, yes, people are mean.  No doubt about it.

More often, people are ignorant, with limited knowledge or no experience to guide them.  Sometimes they’re open to learning more; sometimes not.  Some things cannot be fully understood unless you’ve experienced it.

Sometimes, our critics are right.

Sometimes, our beliefs are so different that we won’t be able to see things the same way.

I think the only way I, personally, could never judge would be to never care.  Then, no matter what my friends and family did, I could react as if they’d told me their favorite colour is beige.  Beyond my comprehension, but inconsequential.

So why does judgmental get the mean girl label?

On Urban Dictionary, the top entry for judgemental (sic) reads

1.)A way of making ones self feel better, by hurting others. Usually caused by closed mindedness, and a lack of manners.

I don’t agree with this popular definition, but it explains the puppy-kicking tone.  It’s not possible that people have reached different conclusions about life or hold different values without it being an assault on me, this definition implies.  If you are not cheering me on, endorsing my every move, you are closed minded, or rude, or like to hurt people.  The only motivation you could have for disagreeing with me is to boost your own sorry ego.

To judgmental me, this sounds both self-centered and, well, judgmental.

It also sounds like a demand that others be pleased with you all the time, no matter what you do.

I wonder if the person who wrote that definition was allowed to throw food in restaurants?


10 thoughts on “Is Judgmental Really So Bad?

    • We’re human. I don’t think we are capable of not judging each other. For me, there is a wide line between “that’s a stupid thing to do” and “you are horrible person.” I cannot avoid thinking the former, but I don’t have to let those thoughts drag me across that broad plain between the two.

  1. I so admire your succinct, precise detailing of your thoughts. I really enjoyed both of thes posts; I’ve been struggling w/ my own frank approach lately. My boss likes to tease me about it but certainly enjoys my ‘skill’ when I put an uncooperative vendor in his place. Humans are judgmental because it allows them to find their place in the grand scheme of things and I’m okay with that. In my opinion, being truthful w/ tact and lack of malice should never be mistaken for meanness…people should grow a pair and then put ’em in their big girl panties. But that’s just me…

    Keep up the great blogging! 🙂

    • Blunt and frank describe me as well. You are right: people too often mistake disagreement as malice. It explains all the name calling that should have been left behind in third grade, doesn’t it?

  2. I think your post points out that we are all judging. It’s part of life. It sometimes keeps us safe. It can’t really be avoided.

    Also, It’s much more fun to not all be exactly the same.

  3. I remember trying to explain to someone that the fact that I didn’t agree with another’s decision didn’t mean that I thought they were wrong/stupid/uneducated but more that I’d considered the options and that decision wasn’t right for us at that time. She didn’t get it – and still doesn’t.

    As for judgemental – yes I get cross when people judge me, especially if I’ve been doing my best to accept their right to do things differently than me. :sigh: Yet, I think it would be a boring world if we all agreed and were the same – the differences are what makes it so interesting.

    Oh – and I took my beloved’s name too, the amount of discussion about that has only been overtaken by the rights and wrongs of home schooling discussions…

    • You have captured my own frustration perfectly: those times when, because I am doing something differently than someone else, they assume that I think they are wrong/stupid/uneducated/bad (even though I never bring up the differences), and then they accuse me of being judgmental and tell me how awful I am. There is no winning that one.

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