Hey, Don’t Judge Me!!

What "Judging" Really Is and What To Do About

“Hey, don’t judge me!”  It’s one of those lines that we’ve all been either on the giving or receiving end of, likely both.  But isn’t telling someone not to judge making a judgment? Of course it is .

And that’s why we need clarity and awareness to get this one right. Otherwise we can end up throwing around a catch-phrase to either excuse our behavior or our responsibility to others.

Who Me – Judge?!

The difference between judgement and “judging” is huge. An we’ve all been impacted by both of these, whether our own or someone else’s.  Whether it’s someone getting behind the wheel after drinking too much or the friend who decides to stop them, the judgement we exercise can have huge ramifications…..I do want good judgment to be exercised.

On the other hand, I don’t want someone looking down their nose at me for what I look like, what I do or what I represent. In other words, I don’t like it when someone has a judgmental attitude toward me. Or to use plain vernacular, when someone is “judging” me.  I don’t like the way it makes me feel or the way it makes me feel toward the “judger”.  I bet you don’t either.

Unfortunately, I often find myself doing the same to others.

What I do find interesting is that both the people who protest when being judge and those “judging” often use the same source to justify their position: the Bible and Jesus himself! How can that be?!  While this isn’t a bible study, it’s with noting that the same Person saying “…don’t judge so you won’t be judged” in Matthew 7 also says “….judge according to righteous judgment” in John 7.  Based on this and what other ancients have said, “judging” is an age old problem without cultural or generational borders.

What’s The Difference and Why is it Important?

Exercising good judgment is simply making the best choice possible based on the information you have. In that regard we make judgements all the time about all kinds of issues, things and people. We can also be judgmental. The former is necessary, right and good. The latter is universal to us all, wrong and almost always hurtful.

Once you understand difference between the two, it’s much easier to embrace and make good judgments while recognizing and countering the ill effects of “judging”.

So what are they?  I think the key differences between the two are ones of object, intent, and spirit.

Good Judgement:

  • Object- the decision itself46774934 - judge hammer, isolated on white
  • Intent- make best decision for yourself and others impacted by it
  • Spirit- Truth and objectivity


  • Object- the other person/group/issue
  • Intent- passing sentence on another in order to  self-justify and self-elevate
  • Spirit- Pride and Hypocrisy

Why Do We Judge So Much?

For me and probably most, just looking at the “judging” list is a huge turn-off. Why then, do we engage in it so often?

I think there are several reasons we engage it. First, “judging” can give us a false sense that we’re “better”, that we are are “right” as well as a false sense of security. Second, it makes us feel good in the short-term. I haven’t looked this one up, but my guess is there is a brain-science study somewhere that shows “judging” releases dopamine and all the other endogenous substances that give us a hit and corresponding high.

Here are some other less obvious reasons:

  • We are compelled to do it when we see our own faults in others, hence their “splinter” becomes the “log” in our own eye.
  • We are often blind to it.
  • We usually don’t see (or ignore) the devastating consequences it has, both on us and on others.

The cost/benefit ratio doesn’t add up here so we need to exercise good judgement and just stop it.

How Do We Stop It?

Simply becoming aware of the difference between exercising good judgment and “judging” is the first step (and the easiest). Others include:

  • Self-reflection and examination- Ask with who, what and where you’re prone to judge; we all have ‘em.
  • Check yourself in the moment- Ask what it is your really doing, exercising judgement or “judging”? Assessing your object, intent and spirit will help you know which it is.
  • Cultivate curiosity- Challenge your judgment by asking “what’s another reason a sane, reasonable person would be doing this?”
  • Demonstrate empathy- and make sure to include all three types: cognitive, emotional, and empathetic concern or compassion.

When you put an end to judging, you’re much better able to see people and things the way they really are, make better decisions, and build better and more effective relationships. The other thing is that you become a better you.

Keeping in mind the difference between exercising judgement and judging can keep us from two errors. The first would be throwing around a catch-phrase like “don’t judge me” to excuse our own behavior or our responsibility to others to make good decisions about tough issues. The other is to keep from being a smug, self-righteous “judger” who sabotages themselves and damages others.

Unlike the disappointing cost/benefit ratio associated with judging, the cost/benefit ratio of stopping  is compelling.

One of my colleagues thinks “judging” is one of the most powerful addictions on the planet. He also argues it has the highest rate of recidivism and that we are always in some stage of recovery.  I think he may be right. Addiction or not,  we all do seem to have an “inner Judge” that wants to rule the roost, so to speak. So how do you exercise sound judgment while effectively keeping your “inner judge” in check?

Please leave a comment about something you’ve found to be effective because we all need help with this one.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

4 thoughts on “Hey, Don’t Judge Me!!

    • David,

      Indeed, and a sobering thought reflective of our accountability. Which is also the case when we defer our responsibility for vetting issues and making well-thought out decisions.
      Hence knowing the difference between the two is important with regard to words that can too often be reduced to a catch-phrase (and in doing so, often be judgmental 🙂 ).

  1. Formal training can help, such as Arbinger. Getting a few days to consider your actions in terms of “how am I a problem for others”, and “how can I be less of a problem for others” when there is conflict is a great method to objectively assess the effect of judging if that is one of your weak points. Andrea

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