Monday, 30 November 2009


I honestly think that judgement never helps anyone and yet I hear it all the time. I hear people say things like:
 “Well she just tries too hard.”
 “You know him, he's useless, he can’t plan anything.”
 “She’s rubbish at communicating what she means.”
 “He’s a bad parent.”
 “Well what do you expect from people like that?”
 “She's so vain."
 “They spoil their kids.”
 ‘You don’t like golf do you?’

I think judgement sometimes comes out of not valuing difference and diversity. Of course we understand the way we do things ourselves, we understand (and are tuned into) our own values, our own lifestyle choices, our own preferences. And of course, we are very likely to believe that our own choices are right, which can therefore mean we might believe any choice that is not the same as our own, is possibly wrong -especially if all this judgement is coming straight from our subconscious.

We all have different talents, values and motivations. This needs to be celebrated - not judged.

In training school governors (often a more diverse bunch of people in terms of attitudes than teachers), I used to do an activity called, ‘Is it wrong?’ I would ask participants to sort a selection of potentially perceived ‘wrongdoings’ (e.g. taking someone’s life, abortion, lying, adultery, taking drugs, sex outside marriage, stealing, swearing, working on a Sunday, homosexuality, eating meat etc) into three categories:
1) always wrong,
2) never wrong, and
3) depends.
The first thing that always struck me was the variation in people's willingness to judge. Some people would set to immediately and confidently sort all the cards in no time. Frequently these people had far more cards in the ‘always wrong’ section. Others were more woolly about it and would put more cards in the ‘depends’ section. More ‘liberal’ people would put more of the cards into the ‘never wrong’ category.

I would go on to challenge some of the things people had placed in the ‘always wrong’ and ‘never wrong’ category. If someone had put homosexuality in ‘always wrong’ I would challenge them with a flurry of food for thought. If someone selected. ‘taking someone’s life’ as ‘always wrong’, I would talk about self-defence (and possibly euthanasia). If someone put abortion in the ‘never wrong’ category, I would ask them if it was still OK if someone had an abortion because they were expecting a girl and wanted a boy. Slowly, more cards would go into ‘it depends’ category.

This brings me to the point I would make in the training. We can possess our own individual moral framework that guides our decisions and behaviours and makes it clear what is right and what is wrong for us. (As long as we are on the right side of the law!) But is it right for us to impose the fine tuning of our own moral code onto others or to judge them if their values are different from ours - if the person's actions as a result of these values does no harm to the rights of others? For example, we might believe drinking alcohol is wrong - for us - but can we impose an alcohol ban on others? We might believe spending lots of money on clothes and make-up is wrong - for us - but can we really impose this on others? etc etc etc

The law outlines - in black and white terms – the things that are just ‘wrong’ - those things that years of civilisation has worked out are definitely not in anyone's best interests - like murder! And when it’s not clear whether what happened is wrong, a jury of twelve people spend a considerable amount of time deciding whether the action taken was wrong or not.

So really - who are we to judge?

P.S. I also find it ironic that religion frequently states that judgement is wrong, and yet I will find judgement sometimes comes straight out of religious doctrine. I'm glad to say, this is not always the case!


  1. Yea, but don't forget that some people are just wrong and stupid.

  2. What's it called counter-culture-ironic-we're-so sound-we're-driven-to-feeding-our-dark-side?

  3. I couldn't agree more!! It's very rare that things are totally black or totally white...the trick is listening to all sides and then making a judgement on all the facts...unfortunately that rarely happens!!

    Lovely blog...I shall be back :-)

    C x

    Ps. Thank you for leaving such a lovely comment on my blog. Much appreciated!!

  4. I'm with James on this one. It's one thing to evaluate, another to judge.

    You wouldn't want to give a planning job to someone who "can't plan anything", and it is a good and positive thing if you don't.

    However, to decide that the person in question is somehow of lesser value on account of their inability to plan, would be quite wrong.

  5. Yes but judgement and evaluation are not the same's all in the intention!

  6. "You know him, he can't plan anything" is evaluative, not judgemental. "Im not going to ask him to organise the p*ss-up at Young's brewery, because, well you know him, he can't plan anything" is a perfectly reasonable, non-judgemental, evaluative statement.

    Judgemental is "He's useless because he can't plan anything"

  7. Ah it's all in the tone. The tone is in my couldn't know what that tone is I guess.

    The blog is about judgement not evaluation - so the tone was full of judgement. It was 'You know him. He's useless, he can't plan anything'. Would you like me to change the blog?

  8. Isn't a judgement just the end result of an evaluation? A conclusion has to be reached in order to move on. Digging deeper, the person in question will never be able to plan anything unless allowed to fail and learn by so doing. It depends how important the p*ss up is. Perhaps assigning a lesser role such as ensuring there is enough paper in the ladies' loo would be a good starting point. (I'm not saying that isn't important, by the way.)

  9. No need to change the blog, Molly. You are right, there is a lot of (extra) meaning in the tone of what is said.

    But I really wanted to draw attention to what I consider to be a very important point, which is that there is a difference between evaluation and judgement. (At least in the way that the word judgement is usually used)

    An evaluation does usually lead to a judgement, and rightly so. We depend on these evaluations and judgements all the time for our survival.

    I think he's drunk (evaluation). Therefore I'm not getting into the car he's going to drive (Because I judge him incapable of driving safely)

    Judgement, as used by Molly, means, I think, a valuation of a human as a whole, based on personal predjudices associated with a particular charateristic. (Im open to being corrected on this view)

  10. I'm loving the debate!!!!

    I think it's all in the definition of 'judgement'. Judgement can be evaluative - yes.

    The judgment I have blogged about is not an evaluation, it's the one all sayings are on about like...'never judge a person until you have walked for two weeks in his/her moccasins.' Being judgemental - judging someone as lesser because of a belief, an inability, an ability or interest etc - and this I personally find prevalent. Perhaps it's the world I work in and others do not experience this as much as I do - as I do meet a LOT of people in my job!

  11. Cogitator's comment came in as I wrote my last comment....yes that definition will do....

    Judgement, as used by Molly in this blog, means a valuation of a human as a whole, based on personal predjudices associated with a particular characteristic.

    Mother Theresa said, 'If you judge people, you have no time to love them.'

    I don't think my defintion is that rarely used!

    I think Myers Briggs 'thinkers' would see judge as evaluate and 'feelers' as cast judgement.

  12. More uses of 'my' definition....

    Judgement prevents us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances' Wayne Dyer

    'We can never judge the lives of others because each person knows only their own path and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you're on the right path but it's another to think that yours is the only path.' Paulo Coelho

    It is just as cowardly to judge an absent person as it is wicked to strike a defenceless one. Lawrence Lovasick

  13. I think we are in agreement here

  14. Sorry - I have to elaborate my further thinking - I rushed my explanation earlier.

    With the two Myers Brigg's spectrums - Thinkers (T) -Feelers (F)
    'Thinkers' apply logic to make decisions or judgements, 'Feelers' resort to a gut reaction that comes from their inbuilt value system - so thinkers are likely to see judgement as an evaluation that leads to a conclusion whereas feelers might see it as a negative value judgement

    Judger (J) - Perceivers (P)- another spectrum
    Judgers like closure, decisions made and not revisted, Perceivers like to remain open-ended and avoid closure. So Judgers make judgements (decisions) and move on, perceivers remain open to further information and avoid the final judgement.

    I suspect these two spectrums were at play in this debate...Cogitator TJ and Molly FP - two different and typical of type intepretations of 'judgement.' I love Myers Briggs!!!

    ANYONE still with me? What about the Claire/James sister?

  15. I think you and cogitator have been on the same side all along! I took Cogitator's comment as an addition/clarifaction to your blog entry, not a criticism. So then when you thrashed it out you realized you were in agreement all along - really. Of course you could debate the finer meaning of words like "judgement" at length, but essentially I think you re both of the same thinking.

  16. It's not about sides or's an interesting discussion about the finer details and interpretations and I was fascinated to learn more about the thinker/feeler differences!

    Objectivity (rational) versus subjectivity ('feel it').

  17. Agreed Molly.

    For my part, I get annoyed when people accuse me of being judgemental when I'm passing a perfectly valid and accurate comment about a person's abilities. (I'm not accusing you of doing this, Molly)

    I also think that a lot of harm has been done to school children who think that academic assessment is equivalent to judgement.

    As a result, often the first time young people ever have to come against a negative evaluation is when they get rejected for their first job application.

    Sorry, a hobby-horse of mine

  18. Sorry that should read

    I also think that a lot of harm has been done to school children by people who think that academic assessment is equivalent to judgement.

  19. When you are a's hard to imagine a feeler's perspective and vice versca. Cogitator...from your comments it is clear you are a strong 'thinker'. Therefore you will be prone to people finding you 'brutal' when that is not your intention...

    Feelers and Thinker
    • Thinkers see objective clarity, while Feelers seek harmony with people.
    • Feelers are usually situational and subjective; Thinkers tend to apply their decisions more uniformly and consistently.
    • Thinkers look at the cause and effect of a decision while Feelers show more concern for how people feel about it.
    • Both have feelings, but Feelers prefer to experience then while Thinkers prefer to understand them.
    • Feelers persuade with their knowledge of people, Thinkers persuade using logic and facts.

  20. And more........
    Thinkers and Feelers

    If you are a Thinker you probably:
    • are able to stay cool and objective in situations when everyone else is upset.
    • would rather settle a dispute based on what is fair and truthful rather than what will make people happy.
    • enjoy proving a point for the sake of clarity; it’s not beyond you to argue both sides in a discussion simply to expand your intellectual horizons.
    • are more firm minded than gentle-hearted; if you disagree with people, you would rather tell them than say nothing and let them think they’re right.
    • pride yourself on your objectivity despite the fact that some people accuse you of being cold and uncaring (you know this couldn’t be further from the truth.
    • don’t mind making difficult decisions and can’t understand why so many people get upset about things that aren’t relevant to the issue at hand.
    • think it’s more important to be right than liked; you don’t believe it is necessary to like people in order to be able to work with them and do a good job.
    • are impressed with and lend more credence to things that are logical and scientific until you receive more information to justify Personality Preference’s benefits, you are sceptical about what it can do.
    • remember numbers and figures more readily than faces and names.

    If you are a Feeler you probably;
    • consider a ‘good decision’ one that takes others’ feelings into account.
    • feel that ‘love’ cannot be defined; you can take offense at those who try to do so.
    • will overextend yourself meeting other people’s needs; you’ll do almost anything to accommodate others, even at the expense of your own comfort.
    • put yourself in other people’s shoes; you are likely to be the one in a meeting who asks, ‘How will this affect the people involved?’
    • enjoy providing needed services to people although you find that some people take advantage of you.
    • find yourself wondering, doesn’t anyone care about what I want?’ although you may have difficulty saying this to anyone.
    • won’t hesitate to take back something you’ve said that you perceive has offended someone; as a result, you are sometimes accused of being wishy-washy.
    • prefer harmony over clarity; you are embarrassed by conflict in groups or family gatherings and will either try to avoid it (‘Lets change the subject’) or smother it with love (‘Let’s kiss and make up.’
    • are often accused of taking things too personally.

  21. I am a feeler with a huge dollop of logic..not a nice place to be

  22. Just because I am enjoying the fact this blog is now up to 25 comments...I will add simply

    ruled by your 'head' or ruled by your 'heart'...and yes there is a gender bias and of the four combinations Feeler-Female, Feeler-male, thinker-female, thinker-male....the most counter culture for the UK is thinker-female. They can appear as most out of sorts. But they usually don't care!!!!!

  23. My T score is the lowest of the INTJ scores, at about 12%. Depending on my mood when I answer the questions, it sometimes comes out to 12%F, i.e. the other side.

    Personally, I think I'm more T than F; I chose the moniker "Cogitator" cos I thought it fits :)

    Molly please know I mean no offence by my comments. I love your blog and the insane creativity you display through it.

  24. oof! MUCH food for thought & consideration here! i like the sounds of your exercise for recognizing and examining judgements...i do think a shockingly large amount of the time we ARE judging others without even *realizing*! (which is kind of scary!) i have the feeling i will be thinking about this post for the rest of the day! :)


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