Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Fighting Judgemental Behaviour

Judgemental behaviour means all actions and attitudes demonstrating a preconceived opinion about a person or a group. Have you ever been witness to statements phrased in some way, but seeming to mean the following?
  • You are an expatriate? So, you are a gold-digger and don't love your country.
  • You are a Non-vegetarian? So you are cruel.
  • You are busy and successful? You must be an over-ambitious, haughty and selfish person who neglects his family, friends and relations.
  • You are poor? You must be a moron.
  • You are an Asian or African? You must have come here to take away my job.
  • You don't dress like me? You must be a slut/un-modern person.
I confess, some of the above are from my own experiences: I was bullied by my peers in my childhood for my (premature) intellectual inclinations. I have been a target of direct and indirect verbal attacks from some of my relatives who have construed my choice of career (and moving away from my native town) etc. as my selfishness or ambitiousness. My holding a PhD has been unfairly treated as being equivalent to my being an 'academic' (read un-practical), conceited and arrogant person. I have been judged as un-smart for not dressing up in a particular way! The list goes on. Whenever such remarks were made at me, there's been one thing common in all of them: they have never confronted me; they never gave me a chance to defend my case. All these remarks were made behind my back, or in the garb of casual social jokes, or as indirect insinuations. My attempt to confront and seek clarifications mostly have gone vain: they simply didn't reply, blocked me, laughed asking me not to take a joke personally, so on and so forth.

Such opinions are formed on shaky and unrealistic grounds (insecurity, jealousy, pseudo-science, family sob stories, cheap literature and movies etc.). They take shape before or in absence of adequate interaction with the concerned person or group. They are closely associated with personal or collective ego, and hence, often dictate a person's/group's behaviour long after he/she/they have been proven wrong. For example, a person who has been mistreating economically disadvantaged people as inferiors will find it very humiliating when he has to treat them as his equals.

Judgemental attitude leads to bitter, unfair behaviour, sarcastic and blaming statements, discriminatory and damning attitude. The concerned person feels the presence of judgementalism but feels helpless against it, because such behaviour is often indirect, seemingly casual and brief. The consequences of judgemental behaviour are severe, leading to broken relations and shattered self-esteem. It often leads to feeling of guilt which can't be pinned down to anything in particular. In the extreme case, such behaviour leads to class discriminations and racism.

We always battle against judgements: as perpetrators as well as victims. Both predicaments lead to sorrow. How do we fight judgementalism?

For Victims

  • It is impossible to make everyone happy. Consider this case as a casualty.
  • Know the truth. Know well that what's being said about you isn't probably correct. Look at yourself in your entirety and understand that an opinion of the kind must arise from a viewpoint which is accidentally or deliberately not considering you in your full-dimensions.
  • Empathise. Judgemental people are mostly battling against some insecurity, guilty feeling or jealousy. By passing judgements, they are trying to hide their own weakness by turning the spotlight on you. They are internally in pain. Feel their pain, and forgive.
  • Take no nonsense. Fight against unfair show of judgemental behaviour. Most judgemental behaviour comes veiled in indirect insinuations and sarcastic remarks. Confronting them means taking a risk of being put in a silly spot by the statement 'this is not about you!' or 'I was just kidding!' The judgemental person wants to keep the option of continuing to hurt you by not being confronted. Confront him/her. Either the person will cower down, or he/she will lash back with all his/her venom. Fight back. Make it clear that what they think of you is their business, but how they behave with you needs to be acceptable.

When we are judging

  • Are you not guilty of exactly the same thing which you are charging the other person of?
  • Are you above all those vices you find so hateful in the other person?
  • Have you given the other person a fair opportunity to know that he/she is being judged?
  • Have you given the other person a fair opportunity to put forth his/her side?
  • Have you considered all aspects of the other person's life and personality before passing a judgement?
  • What is your actual reason for taking a narrow view of a person's position? Is it indeed your 'personal view' as you might want to put it? Or does it arise from an unwillingness to look at the matter critically and holistically?
  • Think of how many good experiences are hidden in the treasure-house of a beautiful relation. Every single person and a relation with such a person is a potential source of these beautiful experiences. You mayn't have the bandwidth to develop a great relation with everyone around you. But to gnaw away at an already existing or a potential relation with your own hands is nothing but stupid.
There are big problems which big people solve: climate change, corruption, diseases and illiteracy. Who will solve those little problems which chip away silently at the lives of millions -- billions? These are ordinary problems, hurting ordinary people. They have to be solved by ordinary people like us. Judgemental attitude is one such problem. It's seen in every family, every friend circle, every work place -- every day. We all do it; we all fall victim to it. Both ways, we all suffer. Let's go over the above points, and try and throw away this little epidemic of a bug out of our lives.

1 comment:

Sambaran said...

Great blog Sujit. Can we add on some more concrete example like your first list to identify more situations where we are either victim or perpetrators of judgementalism? Some examples from my side:

Do you like Ayn Rand heroes? So you believe that poor are to be blamed for their misfortune? I guess, mentally you are an immature teenager.

Do you like the BJP government? So you must like India to be a Hindu-religion-only nation?

Don't you use a smart phone? So you must be making an overt show off of your minimalism.

Are you a Bengali? You must be communist/socialist at heart.

You come to drop kids to school in hot pants and low neck t-shirt? You must be a slut/sexually-frustrated woman.

Are you Japanese? You must be hard working.