Snap Judgments Will Break Relationships

Many of us are rather proud of ourselves when we are able to deliver a snappy come-back in a conversation. Someone makes a comment that triggers an immediate response, and it seems our retort pops out faster than our brains can fully process the thought. As witty, clever or amusing as it can be at times, speaking before thinking or before having all the facts can do serious harm to relationships.

We all speak too soon at times. We verbalize negative value judgments about others based on incomplete information and because of our own conscious and subconscious prejudices and biases. We have been seeing a lot of well-publicized incidents in the news lately in which an event occurs, and people with various viewpoints immediately and vehemently react – sometimes violently. And, at times, once more information becomes available we find that the reactions were inappropriate and overblown.

 

This dynamic has proven to be extremely destructive in our society at large, with people stubbornly refusing to hear any other side of the story and defending their own ignorance of the facts. It’s damaging to society, and it is no less so when it occurs in our own circle of relationships with family, friends and others.

If you want to build and maintain strong relationships at home and at work, resist the impulse to jump to negative conclusions about the actions and motivations of others, especially if all you have is hearsay and/or limited information. Withholding judgment until all facts are in represents emotional, social and intellectual maturity and it reflects your ability to prevent being taken hostage by the biases, prejudices and agendas we all have, but too often deny or ignore.

It takes courage to honestly consider what prejudices we may harbor. Sometimes our own negative experiences cause us to form biases for or against something or someone. Even everyday occurrences can cause us to form strong biases. Have you ever encountered a rude waiter or gotten sick from a particular restaurant’s food and decided you would never, ever eat there again? Or have you drawn immediate assumptions about a new acquaintance because they remind you of someone who hurt you?

Just as snap judgments are breaking down the relationships between various groups within our society, they are also separating individuals from their own family members and friends. So, today I would encourage you to practice one of those old-fashioned principles that never goes out of style: Stop and think before you speak. Consider what impact your words will have, and make sure you let your loved ones know that you value them instead of judging too quickly.

Someone once said that God Himself doesn’t propose to judge a man until he is dead. So why should we? I think we can all benefit from asking ourselves that question.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

 

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