Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 684

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 691

Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 684

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 691

Often people are heard to say, “I feel judged.” Or “you are being judgmental.” When this occurs, conversation becomes awkward and uncomfortable. The receiver of the “judgment” feels hurt and tends to become defensive. The sender feels misunderstood claiming, “I wasn’t judging you.” This is a common issue between people, especially friends, mates, and family members. Who is right? And the answer is, it depends on the context and the intent of the person being told that he or she is being judgmental and the state of the person receiving the message.

Making Judgments This is a process of assessing a situation. We all make judgments. Making judgments is an integral part of the human cognitive apparatus. We assess the distance between our car and the car in front of us. We assess whether we can get through a red light. We assess the degree of danger around us. A judge makes assessments as to guilt or innocence based on the evidence presented. A physician makes a professional judgment regarding the appropriate treatment. And a referee makes a judgment call regarding whether a foul has been committed. All of these judgments are made on the basis of experience, evidence, research, knowledge, or data. There is a sound basis for the judgment. The judgment is not arbitrary.

Using Judgment The word judgment itself is used to describe a process of assessment exercised before making a decision or taking an action. Some people possess better judgment than others. That is, they are able to think like a chess player who is able to see consequences of actions several moves ahead. A person with good judgment is able to evaluate a group of data and make a decision to act in a particular way such that to increase the probability of a positive result. A person with poor judgment often demonstrates little forethought regarding their actions and often experiences negative consequences. A person who regularly achieves positive results of their actions is said to possess good judgment while someone whose actions yields negative results could be said to exercise poor judgment. To acknowledge someone who exercises good or poor judgment would be to state an opinion based on the evidence. It would not be considered either making a judgment or being judgmental.

Being Judgmental
This is where things getting a little tricky. When a person is being judgmental, he or she is finding fault with the behavior, beliefs, decisions of another person based solely on personal opinion and belief. There is no supporting evidence for rendering the judgment. Being judgmental is never applied to behaviors with which we agree or of which we approve. Judgments, however, can be equally applied to behaviors where the results turn out well or turn out poorly. We, like judges, can render judgments without being judgmental. When we render an opinion of someone’s behavior with no basis for making that assessment other than one’s own opinion and values, we are being judgmental.

When people experience themselves being judged in a negative way, they often state that the person judging them is being judgmental. This may or may not be the case. The question must be asked as to whether there is a basis of the judgment and then the data must be assessed. If there is inadequate, insufficient, or no existent data, and the opinion is left standing, then that person can be considered judgmental. On the other hand, if there is a sound basis for the judgment and the person still feels that he/she is being judged, then that person should examine themselves for the source of their defensiveness. One more point: just because there is a basis for the judgment does not mean that one has to agree with assessment. But that then becomes merely a difference of opinion or a difference in the interpretation of the data. 

[Please add your thoughts and experiences on this topic in the comment section of this blog.  This blog is intended as a forum for folks to raise issues, share experiences, and promote dialogue on important issues of contemporay life.   Please sign up as a Facebook Fan at www.docdreyfus.com/fanpage. For additional information about me and my practice, please visit my website at www.DocDreyfus.com. ]